I hope you had a very enjoyable Christmas whatever you did, wherever you were and whoever you spent it with. I had a quiet one with my parents. My brother was going to do Christmas this year but unfortunately he got Covid. He has now tested negative, but is still feeling the after-effects.
It was also my birthday on Christmas Eve and of course it was much more low-key than in previous years with Covid lurking! For those of you who have a Christmas Birthday, you will know that in reality you share your day with everyone around you. So, I truly value all the wonderful people in my life who make it a special day that is different to Christmas.
Last week’s Thought for the Week which was all about “Connecting Virtually with Impact” and the week before was “Do You Ever Feel Invisible”?
And of course, these things are very much at the forefront of our minds this year, as they would have been the year before because we miss that connection with people we had before. I was going to write “normally”, but what is the reality of connecting “normally” with others these days?
We know that connecting with people is now proven by research to be good for our mood, and our physical and mental health.
- But what is “connecting”, really?
- What makes it so important?
- How can you tell if you are actually connecting with others?
- And what can you do if this is a constant struggle for you?
Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s famed “Hierarchy of Needs” places our need to feel connected with a sense of belonging as secondary only to our survival needs.
And research shows us that loneliness is on the rise, and that a lack of human connection can be more harmful to our health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
Even before Covid, we lived busy lives, trying to strike a balance between work, school, hobbies, self-care. And nowadays, more than ever, our social connections fall by the wayside. But connecting with others is more important than many might think.
Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems. By neglecting our need to connect, we put our health at risk.
And at this time of year, over the holidays, this becomes evermore evident, either for others or for ourselves as we have time to reflect on our lives as the year draws to a close.
The reality is that we’re living in a time of true disconnection right now.
While technology seems to connect us more than ever, the screens around us disconnect us from nature, from ourselves, and from others. Wi-Fi alone isn’t enough to fulfil our social needs – we need face-to-face interaction to thrive as well. And technology should be enhancing our connection to others, not replacing it.
And there was a time in my life years ago when I had loads of people around me and yet I felt lonely. So, it is not always about isolation.
With Covid, we are at home more than ever and some of us are more outgoing than others and that is totally normal. Anyone who has done a Myers Briggs assessment will know their most preferable style.
So, our inherent need for human connection doesn’t mean that every introvert must become a social butterfly. Having human connection can look different for each person.
I invite you to think about how you can create more connection with people to suit you, your preferred lifestyle and circumstances. And also, how can you actually help people who may be feeling lonely?
Here are some examples: –
- Is there a club or outdoor group activity they could join safely?
- Are there any old friends they’ve lost touch with and could reconnect?
- Is there a cause they care about that they could support?
- How practical is it to go out for a coffee / tea and read a paper or book safely in a communal space?
- Have they introduced themselves to their neighbours?
- Asking someone for help when they need it is absolutely OK. Who could they ask?
- Do a random act of kindness!
If anyone is feeling lonely, they are certainly not the only one and they don’t have to live in isolation. We live in a world with over seven billion people, and we all need connection.
As you know, I have created The Communication Code, an empowering Group Coaching Programme designed to help people discover their natural and most effective communication style. And if you know anyone who you think would benefit, if you could share the link with them that would be great:
Find out more about The Communication Code
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy
because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless
and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that”
~ Robin Williams ~
As always, I will leave that with that thought.
With best wishes,