Social relationships and human connection are essential to our well-being, both physically and mentally. Loneliness can lead to adverse health effects, including depression, anxiety, and stress. To help people connect with others and overcome loneliness, psychologists at the Australian Psychological Society have provided 14 tips. Let’s take a closer look at each of these tips and explore how they can help individuals deepen their social connections. You don’t have to tackle all at once, but hopefully a few can help you to enrich your interactions with other people.
14 tips to connect with others and overcome loneliness
1. Think positive
Often, we worry about how others perceive us in social situations, which can make us overthink our interactions. Instead of dwelling on these worries, focus on the other person or the conversation’s topic. Adopting a positive attitude can help alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with social situations.
2. Forget comparison
It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and feel like we’re falling short in the friendship department. However, quality and enjoyment matter more than the number of friends we have. We can savour the moments of connection, wherever and whenever we find them.
3. Expect change
Circumstances can leave us vulnerable to a sense of isolation. Relationships shift over time and we may lose touch with friends who were once important. Accepting change as normal can help you adjust.
4. Tolerate discomfort
Social anxiety can lead to avoidance of socialising, which can perpetuate loneliness. Remember that awkwardness does not mean that you’re doing anything wrong. Reach out to others, and with time, your social skills will improve.
5. Listen well
Practice listening. Ask questions and really listen to the answers, rather than just waiting for a turn to talk. Respond warmly to people’s experiences through your posture, facial expressions and words.
Out of practice with chat? Spend some time thinking about questions you can use when conversation stalls. You might ask if the other person has travelled far, what they like doing in their spare time, or their thoughts on a popular show you both watch.
7. Say names
Using someone’s name when you know it demonstrates that you care. Asking about their loved ones or picking up on a previous conversation topic shows that you are attentive and interested in what they have to say.
8. Go offline
While social media can help us connect with others, it can also lead to disconnection. Ensure that you have a healthy offline life by making time for in-person connections. Consider inviting trusted online friends to meet in person, building a stronger connection.
9. Chat to strangers
Unexpected moments of connection greatly improve your mood. Share a smile and eye contact with a stranger, or chat to a fellow commuter. Rise to the challenge of finding common ground with strangers.
Helping others can make us feel good and create a bond between individuals. Offering to help with something small, like carrying a bag or holding a lift, can make someone feel seen and cared for.
11. Join in
Embrace opportunities to join, volunteer, or participate in shared activities. This provides an easy way to meet new people, unite over shared interests, and deepen existing connections.
Reach out to friends from your past. Many people welcome such efforts and the feeling that you care. If you plan a catch up, why not revisit a place or experience where you shared happy memories?
13. Manage stress
Social situations can be stressful for everyone, but we can use simple stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing, to help us manage these situations effectively.
14. Practice, practice, practice
Relationship skills can be learnt. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that social connections are good for you. If you feel like you need support to build better connections skills, a psychologist can help.
By implementing these tips, we can deepen our connections with others, build new friendships, and overcome feelings of loneliness. Remember that building strong social connections takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it.
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