Updated: Oct 6, 2020
“Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.” – Harriet Lerner When we think of self-care, a few examples come immediately to mind. We think of the physical and psychological aspects of self-care. Examples could include exercise, eating well, quality sleep, meditation, journaling and attending counselling. The benefits of these activities are well known. Another aspect of self-care that is equally as important is our social connectedness and relationship with others. Research has shown that cultivating and maintaining quality relationships can help to decrease stress, increase happiness, and improve well-being. These relationships can include those with your partner, friends, family, colleagues, and neighbours. For some, these relationships can extend to organized sports and religious gatherings. By surrounding ourselves with people who we care about and care about us, we feel connected and supported. Social connections can act as a protective factor against mental health issues. As well, it can benefit and facilitate recovery in those who are currently affected. Of course, everyone has different social needs, but complete social isolation can have negative effects on our physical and emotional well-being. When we prioritize our relationships, they act as a source of affection, closeness, validation, and support. However, it is important to evaluate our current relationships, communicate our needs, and set appropriate boundaries. There are certain times or circumstances where we will feel that our social support system is challenged, such as moving away for school or work, retirement, or as right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic. These events can make us more prone to social isolation and increase loneliness. Below are a few suggestions to improve the social aspects of your self-care:
Intentionally connecting with others: A huge aspect is maintaining and improving the connections we already have. Put forth a conscious effort into spending quality time with our loved ones. Take initiative by visiting a friend, having coffee with an old colleague, or hosting a small get together. Be present in your everyday interactions, show empathy, and be compassionate. Make sure you express your love for others consistently. Reach out to an old friend, and put forth an effort to reconnect with them. Acknowledge the time that has passed and be honest about why you are reaching out, Connecting with others remotely: There are many options to keep in touch with those we care about. One common way is social media. Some others include video chat, phone calls, and text messaging. While these are by no means substitution for the meaningfulness of face-to-face interactions, they can keep us connected despite barriers, such as physical distance or through COVID-19 restriction. Get a pet: A pet can serve as a good source of companionship and unconditional love. Pets can also facilitate human social relationships. Pets provide the opportunities to get outside, meet other people, interact with other pet owners, and can help us form new friendships. Meeting new people: There are various ways to meet new people. One way is to increase our opportunities to interact with others. We can connect with others who share similar interests by joining a club, attending festivals and concerts, or through volunteering at an organization with a cause you care about. There are also various apps and websites where we can meet others either in a group setting or one-on-one. We can also meet people spontaneously. Take a moment to say hello to those you come across during your day. Next time you are waiting in line or run across your neighbour strike up a casual conversation.
Seeing a Therapist: If you need additional support consider seeing a trained mental health professional. They will be able to provide tools to support you in both expanding and deepening your social connectedness. Some examples include helping your break outside your comfort zone and building connections with friends and family. Additionally, they can help address disconnection such as how to initiate conversations with lost friends.
In order to fulfill our need for connectedness, we must practice social self-care. Social self-care means having loving, healthy, and supportive relationships. It makes us feel appreciated and gives us a sense of belonging. If you find yourself struggling with social self-care try connecting with others, meeting new people or seeking help through therapy.
McAtee Psychology is a private family psychology practice offering counselling, assessment, and therapeutic services to families. Our services include counselling and assessment for individuals, couples, and children & teens. Our mission is to help you and your family create a more rich, connected, and meaningful life.
McAtee Psychology NW: 1982 Kensington Road NW, Calgary, AB
McAtee Psychology SE: 105, 11500 29 St SE, Calgary, AB
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