Research is showing that we are less socially connected than in the past, with many people having no close friends.
Loneliness is increasing, particularly at this time of year.
We know that lack of social connection impacts on mental and physical well-being more than smoking, obesity and other factors.
On the other hand, having strong social connections increases longevity, reduces anxiety and depression, improves empathy, self-esteem and general well-being.
So the impact of lack of social connections is more than loneliness; the impacts are physical too.
The good news is that feeling connected is internal and the feeling of having social connections is enough to improve well-being.
“Having strong social connections increases longevity, reduces anxiety and depression, improves empathy, self-esteem and general well-being.”
Participating in social events like carol singing or movie nights, joining social groups like craft, cards or classes, can give you a feeling of social connection even if you are with a group of strangers.
Just like you can feel alone in a group of friends, it’s all about perception, changing the way you see things.
If you then want to develop close friends, it takes being open to vulnerability – sharing your authentic self, being a support to people who need you, talking about the deeper sense of who you are.
Putting yourself out there may be a risk, you might be hurt or rejected, but there is also the chance you might develop a close friendship.
- Linda is an art therapist and social worker in private practice in the Southern Highlands, NSW and may be contacted for any mental health concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0438 400 446