Why You NEED to Spend Time Together
This week is all about why we need to spend time with others. We talk a lot about self-care and taking time out for yourself to relax alone, but self-care isn’t just about spending time alone.
By now you should be understanding the importance of social well-being and the role it plays in our mental wellness. But are you spending enough time with those around you? And by time we mean physical time!
Since the pandemic hit last year, a considerable proportion of us lost that social interaction we had been so used to. As the world now gradually starts to reopen, many people have catapulted themselves back into normality, whilst some of us may have become comfortable in our social isolation.
As many forget about the fear endured over the past year and a half, many forget some may still be struggling, and still be fearful of being around groups of friends. Then there is the portion (like myself) who are introverted and enjoyed isolation from society and those who may have found a new inner peace with having time to themselves. If you haven’t catapulted yourself back into socialising, or find yourself suddenly wondering where your social life went then this is for you!
Whilst most of us will have a support system in place, this is not the same as spending quality time together. Support systems have been proven to increase mental and physical wellbeing, but a robust social life has been proven to lower stress, improve mood and heart health, encourage positivity, and speed up recovery from illnesses. Compared to social isolation which can decrease the immune system, deteriorate mental wellness, and can increase the likelihood of chronic illness and loneliness.
In a world full of social media, even the most introverted people are now able to connect with others, meet new people and develop lasting friendships. But this interaction isn’t of the same quality and doesn’t have the same benefits as that of face-to-face interaction. In fact, it can actually isolate you and leave you feeling even more lonely.
But let’s not write these forms of engagements off completely. These connections can become a great way of building up to social interactions!
So, whilst you shouldn’t solely use social media as your only way of communicating with others it could become an effective tool for you to meet new people you might not have otherwise encountered and allows for possible future meetings.
The key to healthy social encounters is to have a healthy balance of social interactions, and nothing can improve your wellbeing quite like face-to-face interaction.
We all need friendships, even the most introverted person will have someone they talk to.
Friendships provide you with a sense of belonging and purpose, helps you build social confidence, and can encourage you to change bad habits and try new enjoyable activities. We are born to be connected to others, and embrace socialising as it really can have a wealth of benefits to your health and wellbeing.
But friendships aren’t about the number of friends you have. It is about who you can count on. Who you can talk openly and honestly to and who will be there to hold you up when you need support.
Friendships can form in a variety of ways and change and evolve over time. Friendships can come and can go. But it is the connections that endure that count. Many friendships can drift apart and come back stronger, some friendships can come from unexpected meetings, and some new connections can feel like you have always been friends. The connections that deliver an effortless positive, uplifting, support are the ones to keep and cherish. Relationships that make you feel less of a person, put down or give off toxic negativity should be re-assessed. Really, what do they bring to your life?
Did you know that around the age of 25 it’s common for friendships to often end up taking a back seat, lose touch, and drift? Many people can unintentionally reduce their social interactions with friends and family and let friendships naturally slide when they move away or meet a new partner. This can be further impacted when children come along and become your main priority. Frequently leaving you unable to meet with friends as unpredictable events can occur that can derail plans. Another social factor that can impact your social interactions can be caring for ill family members reliant on your round-the-clock caregiving, which can make socialising almost impossible.
For many, they can find themselves feeling isolated and filled with loneliness as they lose themselves a little along the way.
These represent all-natural events that many commonly let impact their social interactions, and if this sounds like you, believe me, you are NOT alone!
Maintaining social interaction during these times can be difficult but they are equally crucial. Not only for your own mental wellbeing but also in maintaining those friendships and connections you have built. But if this has already impacted you, it is important to know you can get it all back. And if you are introverted, scared, or have just enjoyed social isolation a little too much then keep reading about how you can turn it all around!
Reconnecting With Friends
Remember that friend that saw you through thick and thin?
The one that you now only send an occasional text or message on Instagram to because life just got in the way? Well, why not send them a little message and see if they would love to catch up over a coffee!
Finding yourself thinking about Erin and Gemma from your uni days, who both live close but you only see on Instagram? Why not suggest a little reunion over lunch?!
It is really easy to reconnect and what's the worst that could happen, they say no?
So, how do you reconnect after so long?
I know it's daunting... Time has gone by, people change and move on. You will be asking yourself so many questions, "What if they don't want to speak to me?", "What if they think I am weird after so long?", "What if they hate me?" You are probably also feeling extremely guilty about the friendship drifting, or even punishing yourself if it was over a petty fallout.
Chances are they might not even recall what the fallout was even about, and time has let enough water pass under that bridge. Regardless, you won't know if you don't at least reach out.
The good news is we live in an age where technology can connect even the most remote people. So, if you don't have their number look them up on social media. If you think they might have changed their name, ask someone else who also knows them what their last name is, or what their Instagram handle is. Hit that request friend or follow button, and send them a message!
If you are worried about what to say or that it might seem a bit weird after so long, just own it!
Be honest! Explain you regret life getting in the way and losing touch. That before you knew it a few weeks had turned into a few years and you felt awkward about whether they would want you to reach back out.
Tell them you have often wondered how they were doing and what they were up to. You might be surprised to know the other person feels the same!
Unsure what to say when they get back in touch?
It is always hard knowing what to say when you reconnect with someone. For some, the friendship can pick up where it left off, and for others, it can be a little awkward. Trust me, I have had dealings with both.
Start by asking how they are and what they are doing now, is a great icebreaker! You might even find the conversation naturally starts to flow between you. If it is a little strained, try talking about experiences, or passions you both shared back in the day. Ask them if they still enjoy yoga or painting. Maybe even suggest meeting somewhere that connected you both or doing something you both enjoy doing.
The point of reconnecting is getting to know each other again, and rebuilding that connection and friendship. It might not be the same, but you can work on building a new and possibly exciting friendship all over again.
And don't just talk over social media!
Remember the point is to start social interaction again. So, make plans and stick to them!
If you can't think of anyone with whom you would like to reconnect with, that's ok! Read over the social well-being edits to get tips on how to build new connections, and start making plans to meet up. Once you have met up, make a point to make another date in the diary to meet again, having regular social interaction is key in maintaining mental well-being.