In what ways are you missing connection in your life?
There are many reasons you may be feeling a bit disconnected right now. Are you physically separated from a loved one who lives far away? Maybe you are grieving the loss of someone close to you? Or perhaps a relationship has changed; and now you are emotionally disconnected from a partner, friend, or family member?
Maybe you’ve found that even casual relationships are more distant lately. You may be working remotely instead of sharing an office, or shopping online instead of making a trip to the store. You might even feel disconnected from yourself at times, as your identity or sense of purpose has shifted.
Benefits of strong connections
Humans are relational beings. Our brains are hard-wired to crave connection because it benefits us in so many ways.
Strong social connections can increase self-esteem, improve our resilience, enhance our longevity, and more. When we lose our connections, or don’t have opportunities for connection, we can feel depressed, angry, or abandoned.
Creating new connections or preserving existing ones is vital for our well-being. Our relationships help us to feel safe, secure, happy, and can even provide us with a sense of purpose. Fortunately, there are many different ways that connection can be achieved.
Five ways of connecting
Connection comes in many forms. Take a moment to consider what kind of connection it is that you are currently lacking or would like to strengthen.
Is it a physical connection?
Would you like to increase the physical affection you share with your partner, or maybe just spend more time in the physical presence of someone?
Is it an emotional connection?
Would you like to have deeper, more meaningful conversations? Maybe you want to repair trust, seek forgiveness, or allow yourself to be more vulnerable around someone?
Is it an intellectual connection?
Would you like to spend more time reading together instead of watching TV? Would you like to have more conversations and spirited debates that you both find stimulating?
Is it an experiential connection?
Would you like to spend more time participating in hobbies or traveling together?
Is it a spiritual connection?
Do you wish you could have more conversations about your beliefs, pray together, or even just watch the sunrise together?
The connection you are hoping to improve might even be a combination of these. Which type of connection would you most like to build right now?
Strategies for connection
Tell someone if you miss them and you’re thinking of them. Be honest and upfront about what it is you would like more of; whether this means doing an activity together or talking on the phone.
If the connection you’re missing is with someone who has passed away, reaching out might look like writing them a letter, or checking in with their close friends and family. Reaching out to reconnect with yourself may mean journaling, meditating, or spending time in nature to reflect.
This step may be more challenging now than in the past, but where possible, involve yourself in activities where you can connect to new people who share a common interest.
Volunteering, taking a class, or joining a sports team will make it easier to form shared memories and share joy with new people. You might try online dating, or use apps to connect with local meet-up groups.
Create rituals for connection
Sometimes scheduling our interactions with others may feel less genuine. In reality, scheduling time for connection can strengthen our relationships because it creates consistency, and consistency builds trust.
Sit-down family dinners each night, a monthly phone call with a friend who lives far away, or a weekly date night with your spouse are a few rituals for connection you may like to establish.
Take responsibility for yourself
Connection with others is always a two-way street, but you can only control your own behaviour. Ask yourself what you could do to improve the connections in your life.
Can you be the first to initiate contact? Should you offer an apology for something? Can you be more consistent in following through with plans?
Deepen existing connections, no matter how small
Small gestures can make a huge difference in someone’s day, and your own! Never underestimate the power of a smile, a compliment, or a random act or kindness. Giving social support provides benefits to the giver, as well as the receiver.
Studies have even shown that being kind to others boosts our brain’s feel-good chemicals: oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. In addition to attracting more friends into your life, the chemical processes that happen in your body when you practice kindness can have profoundly positive effects on your physical and mental wellbeing.
Today’s action steps
Reach out to an existing relationship or step out of your comfort zone to interact with new people. Call or text a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, strike up a conversation with your neighbour, or sign up for a cooking class. Do one thing to initiate connection with others.
Establish a regular schedule for relationship building activities with friends, family and partners. Start small: one person, one recurring event. Whether it’s a regular date night with your spouse, or a kickboxing class with your friend; commit to the activity and put it in your diary.
Be mindful of casual opportunities for connection and always practice kindness. As much as you can, keep your eyes off your phone and open to the world around you.
Our world-class coaches on Hello Coach can help you start building stronger connections.
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