The Importance of Connection
What a wonderful week we are having here in the UK! As of Monday, we've officially been able to meet with up to 5 friends outdoors, get our hair, nails etc done, and visit non-essential shops. The nation breathed a sigh of relief, closely followed by (what felt like to me) giddy euphoria! Things are finally getting back to normal and I for one am so, so grateful.
We visited our local pub for a meal and some drinks on Monday night, whilst it was a bit chilly it was such a lovely experience. Of course I relished being cooked a meal, and indulging in a pint of draft lager finally, but that wasn't really what I'd missed.
I love people watching. I absorbed the murmur of happy chatter, banter-ous shrieks and clinking of glasses. I watched friends and families reunite and share such moments of happiness and love and was honestly moved by the whole experience.
If we didn't realise it before, my goodness; this last 12 months has shown us for sure!
Connection is something that, prior to 23rd March last year, we most probably took for granted. We had connection laced into our daily routines. Popping round to our parent's for a coffee, chatting with our colleagues in the office, even having a bit of a chin wag with our hairdresser.
We'd exchange pleasantries with the courier or post man/lady as they dropped something off at our door.
It was what we knew, and we couldn't imagine ever having a reason that this would be removed from our lives. And then....well, you know the rest.
But diving back into socialising on Monday made me realise something. I felt more "me" than I had done in a long time. I felt awake, invigorated, more enthusiastic. I felt so excited and hopeful about things we can now look forward to, and it really gave me a new perspective on connection.
I thought about the people who's lives wouldn't be as affected by the new rules coming into play.
The people who, due to anxiety throughout the whole COVID-19 period to date, didn't feel they could go back to socialising.
The people who were dying to join their friends but felt really overwhelmed at the thought of being around "strangers" again.
The people who lived alone and didn't have anyone to go and meet.
The people who have found themselves out of alignment with the views of their friends/family as to how soon we should be back to normal.
The people who lived far away from their loved ones.
I empathise so much with people in these situations. But as I experienced on Monday, I hadn't realised I felt "less me" until I felt "more me" again!!
For some people it won't be the right time to socialise, and may not be for some time.
But if you are somebody who is feeling a bit overwhelmed, or like you've got nobody to reach out to, read on.
When we socialise with other people, we are taught all sorts of new things. We see different perspectives, and get clarity on areas of our lives that are important to us.
Improve your mental health: Friendships are hugely important, with benefits such as increased feelings of belonging, increased levels of happiness, and improved self-worth and confidence. A study conducted at a free health clinic found that respondents with insufficient perceived social support were the most likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
Help you live longer: Research has shown that social connections not only impact your mental health, but your physical health as well.
Improve your quality of life: Having something to look forward to is so important for your overall wellbeing. Having reliable outlets to share views and life events with brings a feeling of belonging, stability and understanding.
I share this because quite often, we don't know what we are missing until we get out there.
Here are 3 ways you can kick start your connection today:
Reach out to an old friend. Who have you not spoken to in over a year? Sometimes making the first move can feel daunting, but you could be doing them a huge favour if they've also been feeling isolated
Look for ways to make new friends! I came across https://www.sportpartner.com/uk recently when suggesting to my husband he should find a golf buddy and thought it was a great idea! If you have a sport interest that is more fun with 2, consider finding a new like minded connection
Similarly, Meetup is a great way to meet like minded people but still keep your boundaries in place if you feel this is important. https://www.meetup.com/ They have all sorts of events, a lot of them which are still operated virtually, so if you are still a tad concerned about going out this could be a great way to socialise.
The best things come from getting out of your comfort zone and reigniting passions we'd all forgotten about. I encourage you to find a way that feels good to you, to begin socialising where possible.
Let's enjoy the sound of chatter, the creativity that sprouts from ambitious back and forth, and the fresh start we have been given.
It's going to be a wonderful summer if we let it!
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