Day 6 - You are not alone… the secret is connection

This is probably one of the most important mental health topics. You are not alone.

Human connection is fundamental to our survival and our mental wellbeing. Moreover, it’s not just the presence of those connections but the quality of them, that affects our mood, motivation, self esteem, feelings of trust and is essential to feeling satisfied with your life.

At a time when we are required to be socially distant it’s now more important than ever that we are still creating, forming and building our relationships with other people, creating personal and social connections. 

And make sure you continue them into the future post lock down too.

Studies have found that people who feel more connected to others have lower levels of depression and anxiety. Those connections are even more important now because there are so many other factors affecting our mood and anxiety. 

Spending just 2 weeks in the same place can take its toll on us, never mind 8 weeks and counting. This combined with social isolation with a complete social isolation for many of us, a lack of connection between us and society, and generalised loneliness are massive risk factors for our bodies. Further studies found that those that suffer from chronic loneliness are 25% more likely to die with increased risks of heart disease, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. 

With a deep sense to be loved and belong an irresistible need for people now is the right time to make sure we’re still being social! Remotely social of course and that is something we have been training for for years since we made the ‘world small enough’ to be instantly able to communicate with someone on the opposite side of the world.

So let’s use it, reach out to family, old friends or make new ones using the resources at our finger tips. Of course social media is a double edged sword for our mental health but many platforms like messenger have separated from Facebook, so if you are struggling with social media exposure you can delete Facebook and keep messenger not cutting yourself off entirely from the world. 

If you are using Facebook try joining groups with similar interests to yourself to help to engage with other people and make new friends. Or join a group that is positive focused such as the Positive Vibes Community of Facebook who are all coming together to share a positive message. https://www.facebook.com/groups/259064051763003/

With new regulations the chance for human interaction has increased. Remember keeping a social distance is imperative but you can now go out for longer and further reaching walks so say hello to people as you pass them at a safe distance or arrange to see friends at the local park or in an open space to get some much needed face to (2 meter gap) face time. And you should use these opportunities as the good it does for that inner feeling of connection goes both ways.

During your routine make sure you schedule time to chat with friends and family on a regular and daily basis, not only will it give you something to look forward to during your day but it will give you an opportunity to talk about how you’re feeling and you should use it.

Talking to others about how we are feeling helps us to mentally process our own feelings and lifts the weight off our shoulders but it will also help the people you’re talking to to know that someone else is feeling the same way they do and vice versa. You are not alone in how you are feeling. The shared experience is something that has enabled humanity to trump for years. The art of story telling and to share an experience to communicate has been around for millennia and is at the heart of community.

Of course it’s not just about being remotely social, if you live with other people in your house it’s a time to strengthen those bonds too. Sit down, talk, chat, smile, laugh, cry whatever helps you through these times. It’s all good for the soul. And hugs of course, they are essential!

An important thing to remember is that it’s not the number of friends you have but the quality of those friendships that are important. 

Whilst you’re using this time to build on your connections with other people remember to lean on them as we transition back to normality, it will help stem that anxiety in the future. Remember by having these meaningful connections with other people you are protecting yourself both physically and mentally.

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