Social Connection as Self-Care
Over the last few weeks, we have been sharing some fantastic resources for your self-care. Today, we conclude this mini-series by looking at another personal resource to boost your well-being and resilience: social connection. Let’s begin by taking a closer look at what is meant by this term.
Being socially connected refers to the feelings of connection, bond, or closeness with individuals and groups of people around us in our day-to-day lives. It is sometimes referred to as having a social support network. Your social support network can be made up of friends, family members, and other members of the community around you who you can trust. In our MST4Life™ programme, building you social support network is one of the key mental skills from our Mental Skills Training Toolkit.
With social connection, what matters is not necessarily the amount of people you have around you. Instead, the important factor is the quality of the interpersonal relationships you have.
Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of social connection, to find out more about its relevance for your self-care.
Benefits of social connection
Social connection is a fantastic resource for your self-care. In contrast to social isolation, being socially connected is known to benefit both mental and physical health. For example, positive social relationships are known to:
Reduce allostatic load, i.e., the negative effect of daily stressors in our lives
Reduce anxiety and depression
Lead to greater feelings of self-worth.
Another benefit of social connection is that when you have a strong social network around you, you can benefit from different types of support that others can offer you. This may be emotional support or practical support.
For instance, if you are facing a personal challenge, being able to talk things through with someone you trust can take some of the weight off your shoulders. Equally, sharing personal achievements with someone close to you can increase feelings of self-worth and reinforce a sense of meaning in your life.
How else can social connection benefit me?
Being socially connected means you are also more likely to engage in positive health behaviours, such as going for a walk with a friend, or cooking a healthy and delicious meal to enjoy with a family member.
Activities to try
Now that we have looked at some of the many ways that being socially connected can improve your self-care, let’s look at some simple activities to try:
Read our previous blog post for some top tips on how to stay socially connected, especially through COVID-19.
Make a plan to catch up with a friend or family member who you have not spoken to in a while. While adhering to local restrictions, perhaps arrange a walk in a park, coffee break, or even simply a chat on the phone.
Consider joining an online group related to an interest you have, such as a book club. Make new friends and start having discussions around things that interest you.
Have a go at identifying and building your own social support network using our interactive Dream Team tool.
Complete an online fitness class with a group of friends. Set up a Zoom call and share your screen so you can all watch the video together. Exercising in this way, whether through a gentle yoga class, or more intensive HIIT workout, means you can encourage each other to reach your fitness goals, while having fun and benefitting from the social interaction.
To try out more skills and techniques to boost your resilience, you can check out our full range of interactive tools , download our grounding techniques infographics, and view our trilogy of toolkits.
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Photo credit: dashapats, baileywoodyard, and anderson.tiffany on Reshot.