Connecting is vital to our health and wellbeing. It is well researched the impact that isolation and loneliness has on our health and wellbeing. However, when we talk about connection, we often just think about connecting to others. But connecting is much more than that, it’s about being connected to ourselves and connected to a higher purpose.
This is important to remember during times when we may be more isolated from others. Maybe you moved to a new city, or a new country, or just started a new job and you don’t have a lot of connections to the people around you. Or during this global pandemic, in which many of us are practicing social distancing and can’t see loved ones.
There are always external factors that will be outside of our control which impact our lives. And there will always be times in our lives that we feel isolated. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find connection in other places or in different ways.
How to find more connection in your life
There is connection everywhere if you look for it. Being connected is not just a social phenomenon. Being connected starts with yourself, and with the world around you. If you’re feeling isolated and noticing the toll it’s taking on your health and wellbeing, try to think about ways you can connect with yourself, a greater purpose, and prioritize the relationships you do have around you.
Connect with yourself
We hear the importance of self love all the time. But how many of us actually take the time to self reflect and pay attention to what makes us happy? The first step to take when you’re feeling isolated is to really incorporate self care into your routine, and treat your connection with yourself like you would for others. Prioritize your wellbeing every day, put aside time in your schedule to reflect and do what makes you happy.
The first thing you can do is to reflect. Do this in a way that feels manageable to you. This may be a few minutes of journaling every night, or a short meditation when you wake up in the morning. Or it may be just checking in throughout the day while you’re working. Have you gotten out of your chair in the past few hours for a short break? Do you have a headache because you didn’t eat breakfast? Find a way to check in with yourself every day.
Do what makes you happy
Going along with that, pay attention to how you feel when you are doing different things. Are you refreshed when you go for a walk outside? Do you come back from a bike ride feeling happy? Do you love sitting down with a good book? Do you get excited when you cook a good meal?
Find the things that make you happy and do them more.
It sounds so simple but so many of us don’t take the time to reflect on how we feel in the moment. By taking a step back and figuring out what you like to do and what makes you feel your best you’ll gain a much stronger connection to yourself.
Connect with a purpose
Pour your energy into a passion or a higher purpose. When you are more in tune with yourself, this will be easier to find. Reflect on what makes you light up inside. This could be a sport, a lifestyle, a career path. Dedicate time to learning about this- read books, research, practice, listen to podcasts, start a blog. This is incredibly important to feel connected. Something that’s larger than just yourself or the people around you. It’s about something you believe is important in the world.
Try to find a group or community that has that same passion. Finding a group that you identify with can help you massively with feeling like you have a sense of purpose and people to connect with. This could be an internship, a student organization, a sport, a job, a networking group.
This study explores our inherent desire to belong to a group even when we are babies. Belonging to a group of like-minded people helps us feel a sense of belonging and connection.
Connect with others
Finally, connecting with others on a deeper level is incredibly important for our health. A social network can help us process our emotions when we’re going through hard times, and provide us company to share experiences with.
It’s easy to get caught up in your career and not have time for the friends or family members around you. Maybe you have a high pressure job or you are taking care of kids at home, you may feel like you have no time to go to dinner with your friends.
But in the same way that we prioritize our work and our responsibilities we need to prioritize what is good for our wellbeing, and that includes putting the work down sometimes to spend time with those around us.
In times when we really don’t have the time to do this, or during this pandemic when we often aren’t able to see a lot of people in our circle, we can find other ways to connect.
Luckily we don’t have to be with people in person to feel connected. We can call or video call them, even if they are across the world. Bring back other forms of communication- try sending a longer email, writing a letter, or sending a postcard. Get creative- know that just because you can’t see someone in person doesn’t mean they can’t remain in your life. Set aside time in your routine for your friends or family and make this a priority.
It’s important to note that feeling isolated and lonely is extremely common. It’s something we all face at one point in our lives. And our mental health isn’t something to take lightly. There are times when you need professional help. If you feel like you can’t find a way to get out of a negative headspace, be open to those around you about how you are struggling and consider reaching out to a professional.
Here are some resources to consider, depending on your needs:
- Your individual healthcare provider can connect you to a therapist
- Mind-body coaching: Dr. Kirwin offers this service in her practice. While she is not a licensed therapist she can point you in the right direction to get more help if needed and give you tools to start your healing.
- Talk with a licensed therapist online: BetterHelp, TalkSpace
- Self-guided meditation and stress management platforms: Headspace, Aura, Calm, Buddhify
- Immediate help: national suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
There are many changes, big and small, in your life that you can take if you’re feeling lonely, isolated, or stuck. It’s important to remember these feelings are completely normal. When you aren’t able to see loved ones, remember there are many ways you can feel connected and grounded within yourself. And even if you can’t see someone in person, don’t underestimate the power of a quick phone call. Your mental and physical health will improve if you become more connected with yourself, others, and the world.