"A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick." Professor Brene Brown, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.
In the intricate web of human existence, connections with others form the threads that hold our lives together. Human connections are undeniably essential for our overall well-being, whether with family, friends, romantic partners, or acquaintances. They bring us joy, support, and a sense of belonging while providing a platform for personal growth and self-discovery. Research shows that social connections enhance our health, happiness, and a sense of purpose, partly because the support of our friends and family reduces the impact of stress on our bodies and brains. Social connections strengthen our immune system and can protect against anxiety and depression. Research has consistently shown that healthy relationships positively impact mental and emotional health. Strong connections have been linked to lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and a stronger immune system.
Are you low on social connection? Here are a few ideas that may help you build your connections.
Say "yes" more often. Start with things that make you feel relatively safe, remembering that, at the same time, trying new things will require you to be brave. If you are asked to a social event or to pursue something that interests you, such as a hobby, volunteer group, or a sports team, do your best to attend, get involved with activities that invigorate you, and allow you to meet others with similar interests.
Challenge yourself to try something new. Be open to new experiences. Getting out of your comfort zone can be tricky at first, but facing unfamiliar challenges can give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem. A great thing about having friends is that they introduce us to a myriad of new experiences.
Be Patient. Building connections takes time, effort, and sacrifice; instead of expecting others to reach out to you and then feeling rejected when they don't, reach out to them. Make time for friends and family. Research suggests that lending a hand to others may be more important than receiving it. If you are there for others, they will be there for you in your time of need. If you need specific support, such as caring for a family member or coping with an illness, consider joining a support group to meet others with similar challenges.
The significance of human connections cannot be overstated. As social beings, we are wired for relationships and thrive when we cultivate healthy connections. From emotional support and validation to enhanced mental and physical well-being, relationships offer a myriad of benefits that enrich our lives in profound ways. So, let us cherish, nurture and invest in our connections while actively seeking new opportunities for meaningful interactions.