The Importance of Social Connection
In the midst of a global pandemic, more and more people are asking themselves how to best stay socially connected. Social connection is defined as “the relationships you have with the people around you.” It is a spectrum, meaning that these relationships with others can be close, such as a close friend that you’ve had for many years, or more distant, such as a colleague who you spend the most time working with. Today, we will dive into the importance of social connection on individual as well as collective mental health and wellbeing.
Social connection can have very different meanings to different people. Some prefer multiple, larger social circles while others prefer to have under five close friends that they can rely on. The purpose of social connection can also be highly variable for different people. Some individuals focus on growth and feeling inspired by the connections they make, while others may choose to focus on creating fun memories with the people they surround themselves with. This is also highly dependent on one’s personal circumstances, for instance, someone might seek inspiration and support from their loved ones when going through tough times. The same individual may want to experience fun things and create memories when in a more positive mindset.
Resilience is a concept that is highly associated with social connection. Defined as “the ability to bounce back after stressful situations”, resilience is strengthened by the power of social connection. Having a strong support system increases resilience and the capacity to manage stress, contributing to better long-term health outcomes. As well, giving support to others can be just as fulfilling. This can be done through volunteering, reaching out to family and friends via text message, providing encouragement to others, and so many more.
Below are some suggestions that anyone can try to stay socially connected:
- Participate in community events.
These include live shows, street festivals, marathons, pop-up markets, and many more. Events like these truly bring together communities, allowing people to meet new others and celebrate local talent and culture. You can opt to go with family and friends, or go on a solo adventure. You might even meet some lovely people from your neighbourhood or find a new hobby for yourself!
- Join a team sport or group activity.
These include classics such as basketball, soccer, and swimming, as well as pottery classes, trivia nights, and yoga sessions. Participating in team sports or group activities fosters a sense of belonging that is shared through a common goal or interest. This is a great opportunity to participate in something that you might have always been keen on trying and connect with others along the way.
- Volunteer at a non-profit organization
Non-profit organizations are not only limited to charities, they also include crisis centres, hospitals, and social services. Volunteering your time to help others is certainly a fulfilling process, and you might meet like-minded individuals that share similar aspirations. Developing social connections while simultaneously impacting the public in a positive way is a fantastic way to get involved.
- Call or send a message to a family member or friend
Although this may seem insignificant, a message or call can go a long way in making someone feel cared for and supported. Checking in on your loved ones ensures that you stay socially connected, while nurturing your relationships and making them more meaningful. Talking to your family and friends provides relief to those with busy schedules and greatly helps with the upkeep of mental health wellbeing. Reaching out might even motivate one or both parties to make plans in order to continue to stay connected!
While there are many ways to stay socially connected, it can sometimes be challenging to do this on top of an already hectic schedule. It may take some learning to find out what works the best for you in terms of developing and maintaining social relationships. However, the benefits of social connection are multifold and have hugely positive impacts. Staying socially connected is a surefire way to sustainably improve individual and community health outcomes and positively impact the people around you.
- Social Connections [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 3]. Available from: https://myhealth.alberta.ca:443/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=abl0295