Connection & Mental Health

What does connection mean to you?

To me, connection means a multitude of things like;

  • Having a network of friends and mentors for support
  • Staying in touch with loved ones
  • Choosing a face to face meeting at work over a phone call
  • Choosing a phone call over an email
  • Being present with those whom I am with
  • Listening to understand rather than listening to respond

What I didn’t fully realise is just how much a lack of connection with others can be detrimental to a person’s mental and physical health.

“People who are more socially connected to family, friends, or their community are happier, physically healthier and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected”

(Relationships in the 21st century – The Mental Health Foundation, 2016)

So what can cause us to be less socially connected to family, friends or our communities?

Honestly for me sometimes the sheer volume of work I have got to do and the responsibilities I have in running a business can hoover up my time, energy and focus. So much so I can go weeks and months without connecting with some of my friends and family and then I feel really bad (and because it has been a while since I have connected, I procrastinate which sometimes makes it worse!).

Admittedly this is an area I am working on. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

But hold on a minute…

Aren’t we even more connected to each other now in the digital age and social media? With a swipe of a finger and the touch of a screen, I can be connected with hundreds of people in an instant!

Surely, as a nation, we are more connected and have more opportunities than ever to create the sort of relationships that will nourish our mental health and wellbeing?

According to The Mental Health Foundation;

“While online and mobile technologies can provide a means of connecting and can increase our sense of belonging – therefore having a positive impact on our relationships – research suggests that this cannot replace our offline relationships. It is the neurochemical response that occurs during face-to-face interactions that contributes to wellbeing.”

For me, this places even more importance on connecting with people face to face and being present with those who are around me both at work and at home…

I am sure you agree that taking this approach helps to create relationships of quality – the sort of connections that we need as human beings to live longer and enjoy good mental health and wellbeing.

According to The Mental Health Foundation;

“In terms of physical health, the quality of our relationships is as critical as not smoking and is more important than eating well or exercising”

Excuse me while I just pause for a second and take that in…

The QUALITY of our relationships is as critical as NOT SMOKING!

That’s HUGE

Finally, I would just like to point out that our mental health can impact how we connect with others and how we build and develop relationships. For some people with mental health conditions, the very idea of making new friends, building new connections and getting involved in their community can be a source of fear – a recipe for avoidance and isolation.

“Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety can influence whether someone feels able to interact and connect to others. This means that developing relationships and socialising in traditional ways can be challenging for some people. Part of someone’s recovery journey may be to develop more confidence in social settings and to build healthy relationships.”

(Relationships in the 21st century – The Mental Health Foundation)

 If you know somebody who is struggling with his/her own mental health right now and is isolating themselves from the world then I invite you to connect with them to see how they are.

You might just help them on their recovery journey, and you may even save a life.

With love, Claire

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