This is the third article in the Living Well life coaching series where we look at the five BE’s of living well. Last week we looked at BE CURIOUS. Today’s topic is Be Connected. So grab a journal and a cuppa and head to the sofa for a quick 15 minute reflective coaching session.
In the last 3 days
- How many different people have you had face to face conversations with? i.e. more words than just “Thank you” or asking for a latte
- Approximately how many people would you have had electronic conversations with i.e. comments not just “likes?”
- How many people have you spent more than 30 minutes with, in conversation?
How many different social media are you connecting with? (Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Linked In? Other?)
Check out the Social Network diagram below. Label as many sectors as you like eg family/ close long time friends (6), Golf club friends, book group people/ etc
How do you feel about the range of your social connections? Would you like more/ less or the same amount?
Do you think you are more Introverted or more extroverted? Introvert means you get energy from quiet times and having some time alone. Extrovert means you get energy from interaction with people- often lots of them!
So let’s check out what we can learn about social connectedness.
The New York Times tells us that The Hot Black café in Toronto declines to offer Wi-Fi to its customers. The electronic blackout is an attempt to get customers to talk to each other and connect to each other not their devices. “We’re a vehicle for social interaction says the owner Jimson Bienenstock. Many other cafes have followed suit.
There’s a mountain of medical evidence to show that human connection is good for our mental and physical health. Harvard Women’s’ Health Watch reported “ Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems and live longer.”
A Stanford University academic, Dr Emma Seppala has written a book called The Happiness Track (2016) She argues ” people who feel connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression, higher levels of self-esteem and greater empathy for others.” https://youtu.be/toRBKo0poxc
An alternative angle on this is the work of Russ Harris called The Happiness Trap.. Harris developed the idea of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and explores how mindfulness can help manage the fact that you cannot be happy all the time! Check it out below
So we know social connection is important and you have just gathered some facts about the level of social connection you want and you have.
If we think about the number of connections people need each day the number 5 has been bandied about. Each day people need to have at least 5 connections/ conversations with other people. It’s a guide. Some people are perfectly happy and not lonely if they have less. Introverts tend to value in-depth conversations with a few people rather than meeting new people in a crowded room. Introverts tend to value a small group of close friends. Extroverts tend to enjoy making new friends and acquaintances and have a wider circle of connection. Some people are joiners..they enjoy group activities. Others feel drained and exhausted by even 30 minutes of group activity.
There is no right or wrong prescription here. But we do know that if you sit at home seeing no one and avoiding social contact that your health- both mental and physical is at risk.
Knowing who you are and the frequency and types of connections that are good for you is important for Living Well.
If you want to extend your social connections here are some tips
- Make the effort to connect with family and friends- invite them once a month to a low key get together. My kids were living in the city and were building their careers and working insane hours. I would meet them at a local café for about 30 minutes at 7am for coffee and croissant about once a week. That was it and enough to oil the wheels of connection.
- Join things- yes I know- if you’re not a joiner do a half day course e.g. In Melbourne the Council of Adult Education does half day courses or group walks around the city for 2hours. There will be similar programs where you live
- Create a group! Advertise on Facebook or pin up a sign at a local café. Start a knitters group, a gardeners group, a bloggers group, a train enthusiasts group, film club, book club, coffee chat group.
- Use meetup meetup.com and create a group or join an existing group
- Use electronic media- be sensible and cautious but remember billions of people use social media without getting mugged or having their assets stolen.
- Join chatrooms and leave comments to engage with communities such as those listed below. Start by leaving comments below this article!
Make a 3 point plan now if you want to develop your social connections for better health and living well. Seek out resources and reading and start living well.
Remember to seek professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed and lonely. Help is a phone call away.