Your Weekend Wellbeing 'To Do'. Episode 5: It's all about a deeper connection.
By Amy Crawford
Getting social is not just about pleasure - we need to take this time a little more seriously, prioritise it. If needs be, whack Sunday brunch with the girlfriends/boyfriends in your calendar so the social element of your life actually happens and 'life' doesn't get in the way.
Research has shown that those people who foster meaningful relationships are happier, have significantly fewer health problems and thus live longer. By contrast, having less satisfying and/or fewer social ties can be linked to depression, reduced cognitive ability and premature death (Harvard Women's Health Watch, 2010).
It seems like such a simple decision or activity that can have a marked impact on the quality of our lives don't you think? The mechanics of it are pretty simple though - it all comes down to stress management.
You see, socialising relieves harmful levels of stress which can negatively affect gut health, insulin regulation, the immune system and the heart. What's more, surrounding yourself with those that care for you actually triggers the release of 'stress reducing' hormones. Really, it is a super easy health strategy to access.
Or is it?
For some social isolation is the norm. Confined by an ageing body, a disability, or even just an introverted personality, some people simply fail to have the social circles that will afford them these health benefits. This post is therefore my prompt for you to address the situation this weekend.
This weeks challenge: connect.
1. Pop in on your neighbour with a conveniently baked loaf of bread
2. Visit your grandparents, boil the kettle, ask a probing question. Who knows the stories (the history!) that may unfold
3. Reach out to a friend who has just made a major life change
4. Offer your couch to a wayward traveller, solo travelling can be quite lonely
5. Organise a pot luck dinner with your closest friends.
Should you embark on any conversations (such as those listed above), ask the probing questions, delve deeper. Personally I feel there is too much superficial surface conversation happening these days. "Hi, how are you?" is one of the most popular greetings here in Australia; yet how many actually listen to the response (irrespective of the fact it's not really considered socially acceptable to respond "Well actually, I'm not that great, I've been battling with...."). So continue with the questions, delve, be interested, listen and engage. Maintain eye contact, pop your phone on silent. Be in the moment!
A departing word as we near the holiday season, why not think about creating a gathering that will allow you to socialise too? Choose activities that are most likely to bring happiness to you (and not leave you stuck in a stinking hot kitchen with a turkey). Delegate tasks that eat into your social time so you can use that time on, you guessed it, you.
How do you connect with others on a deeper level?