Have you ever felt like people are not as interested in you as they used to be? You don’t hear from them as often as you used to? Or maybe, it’s you who have stopped calling and catching up. Despite our 24/7 connectivity these days, the number of people experiencing loneliness is on the rise, along with rates of depression and anxiety. And the current pandemic has exacerbated the problem even more.
I am old enough to remember a time before the internet (OMG). Before email, before Facebook, before Instagram, before WhatsApp. I remember when my friends and I would chat on the phone a few times a week and meet in person regularly. If you wanted to find out about their weekend you called. If you wanted to wish them a happy birthday you rang (or sent them a birthday card!). We knew our neighbours (my mum used to spend hours chatting with the neighbour over the fence). There was a time when, if you wanted something, you had to go out to a shop and get it. Now you can order online and have it delivered. Convenient? Yes. Good for us? I’m not so sure.
Real connections are good for your health
I feel like we’ve lost a large chunk of that person-to-person connection and the research suggests it’s been detrimental to our health. And my fear is we may even be losing the actual ability to make those connections; to converse, to ask questions, to listen and to have a real-time conversation.
How easy is it to forget the people from our past when we get caught up in our busy day-to-day lives? To lose real connection? In fact, not just the people from our past but even the people from our present. Between work, housework, exercise, sleep, paying bills, feeding ourselves (and others) and losing time (possibly hours) going down the rabbit hole that is social media and the internet it can be far too easy to go through the day (or week, even) without having a really meaningful (i.e. not transactional) interaction with family, friends or even the barista who makes your daily coffee.
It’s just too easy to overlook the people from our past and our present even though we don’t mean to. In fact, I think that despite our access to tools that make it easier to “connect”, in many ways we are less connected than ever. (I don’t know about you but trying to do an online catch-up with more than one, or maybe two other screens is challenging and somewhat unsatisfying).
Are we losing the ability to form a deep connection?
Many of us are taking time out to disconnect from our screens which is great but I want to encourage you to use that time to connect in a meaningful way.
I know I’m guilty of thinking “I must ring so-and-so” and then not actually getting around to it for days (or even weeks) because of some excuse like it’s not the right time, they might be busy or I’ll just finish this task first. But you know what? I’m always glad when I do make that call. HOW AMAZING is it when we take the time to remember someone and actually reach out and reconnect?
We might have lots of Facebook friends or Instagram followers but I don’t think “likes” and “comments” on Facebook really count as connection. They may give you some vague idea of what’s going on in your friend’s life but no real detail; no nitty gritty. To me, connection has to be one-on-one, preferably face-to-face or voice-to-voice but I’ll accept email or text when needs be (yes, old school, I know!).
Sometimes we can kid ourselves that we are connecting but are we really?.
Is there a health benefit to connecting?
Absolutely! Connections are so important for our mental and even our physical health. Even a brief one-on-one connection can change your biochemistry in many ways including:
- Improved mood
- Boosting your immune system
- Lowering your blood pressure
- Reducing your stress hormones
- Improving your digestion
- Helping you sleep
I think many of us would benefit from more connection, especially at the moment when we more distant and isolated than ever. Even making real eye contact and smiling at your local barista can make a difference, not just to him or her but to you as well. Double whammy!
Today I am challenging you to do something you may not have haven done for a while. Make contact with someone you haven’t spoken to for too long. Is there someone from your past that you can text, message, email or call TODAY? It doesn’t have to be more than just letting them know you still think of them and you hope they are well but if it turns into a face-to-face then great. I bet you will make their day and yours too! Have a chat and then encourage them to pay it forward and do the same.
Pick up the phone, call them. If they can’t talk, they won’t answer. Or even if they are busy, a 2-3 minute conversation is a significant improvement on nothing.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone did that? Imagine the ripple effect. (I think the world would benefit from a bit more connection).
Please do it and if you want, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your renewed connection and how it made you feel. You’ll be giving your health and theirs a big boost!