Meaningful connections with others can promote wellness, boost our mood and improve our overall emotional and physical wellbeing. Significant and trustworthy relationships remind us of our common humanity and provide us with a sense of belonging, satisfaction and acceptance. With this positivity we, and those around us, feel more valued and we are often more productive due to a greater sense of purpose.
The correlation between connections and mental health
When processing significant life changes, meaningful connections can give us strength and a renewed perspective. When we or someone we love, experience hardship or is feeling isolated it can be valuable to seek, initiate, and implement meaningful connections with others.
According to Head to Health, provided by the Australian Department of Health, "The connections you make through relationships, places, and social activities can build a safety net for your physical and mental health. Healthy connections with family, friends, partners and co-workers, and having a pet, are known to lower levels of anxiety and depression, and raise self-esteem.".
However, meaningful connections aren’t just about having a general chat with another person regarding a shared interest or last week’s footy game; connections are made meaningful when we open up, listen to and empathise with someone in order to develop an authentic and reciprocated connection.
By facilitating these meaningful experiences with others, we empower ourselves to inspire change, build trust and strengthen our emotional resilience.
6 ways to boost your connection with others
Kate Blundell shared with us 6 achievable ways to boost your connection with others:
1. Be present and mindful in the conversation you’re having with someone
There is a distinct difference between being mind-FULL and mindful.
Being Mind-FULL is to be caught up in your thoughts and not engaged in the present moment, sometimes worrying about the future or dwelling on the past in an unproductive way.
For instance, you may find yourself focused on what you are saying, trying to predict where your conversations with others are headed. This makes it hard to listen to the other person and engage fully in the conversation and can be confusing and overbearing for the both of you. Don’t multi-task.
Your attention is one of the greatest things you can give someone. Giving your attention to others and following the natural progression of a conversation is being mindful.
2. Engage in a shared positive experience
Fun and creative activities can be the catalyst for establishing authentic and beneficial connections. When we share these positive moments with another person, a mutual bond is formed, and it compels us to want to delve deeper into the relationship. When we’re feeling down or anxious, we often want to withdraw and avoid certain situations.
However, taking small steps to engage in activities with the people you care about is a well-known strategy to improve mood and increase confidence. If you’re feeling stuck, try reminding yourself how you will feel after. Each small step makes a difference.
3. Be curious about those around you
Curiosity is the desire to learn or know more. By being curious about those around us and the person we are talking to we can fully engage in a conversation or experience. This changes our focus from ourselves and mind-FULL, “what will I say next” to those you’re within the present, “what are they saying”. Being curious allows you to establish deeper connections with those around us and to learn.
One way to find out more about the people you value – and embrace technology – is to use connectivity apps like Story Corps. Story Corps’ mission is to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build connections between people, and to teach the value of listening. Read more below about Story Corps and other great connectivity apps below.
4. Listen and empathise
Take the time to really listen. When you show somebody that you are present in the moment and that you are hearing what they’re trying to get across, you are establishing the trust and empathy required to create and nurture a more meaningful connection.
5. Be authentic and have a conversation about something important to you
Whilst it’s important to ensure the other person is feeling heard, this is also your chance to feel heard and understood. Meaningful connection is a two-way street and both parties need to experience the benefits of each other’s mindfulness to allow connection to flourish.
When you are speaking about something that is important to you or a topic that you are passionate about, you are revealing your authentic self – and it will show.
6. Help someone
The impact of contribution and helping others can be incredibly beneficial and can provide us with a great sense of fulfilment and reward. Perhaps it’s something as simple as calling someone who might be feeling lonely or offering to help set-up someone’s Zoom account. These deeds can have a profound effect on inspiring trust and confidence in others.
Check out these 4 apps for improving your connection with others:
StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and our stories with others, to build our interpersonal connections, and create a more just and compassionate world.
This app is handy for those of us who feel like we could reduce our screen time. It encourages us to make tweaks to our technology habits and focus more on spending quality moments with friends and family.
Uchi was created to help us connect more honestly and deeply with people we already know. Using a question and answer format, you can share questions to learn about others and post answers to others’ questions to feel heard. On Uchi, nothing you post is public. You only share with the people in your network.
If you feel you could improve your connection with your partner, this app may help you strengthen your connection by expressing your love in ways that are most meaningful to your partner – and vice versa.
Note: There may be in-app purchases for the above apps. My Mirror is not paid to include these apps in this article.
When speaking to a professional can help you strengthen your connections and your mental wellbeing
If you’re experiencing difficulties connecting with others, anxiety or low mood are getting in the way, or you’re experiencing some challenges in your relationships, you may want to reach out and speak to a psychologist.
If you answer yes to any of the following statements, it might be worth speaking to a professional:
- “I find it hard to establish meaningful connections with others and I’m not sure why.”
- “I watch others around me feeling comfortable interacting but I simply don’t understand how I can do this.”
- “I feel different and as if I don’t belong.”
- “Social interactions leave me feeling anxious and on edge.”
- “I find it hard to communicate with the people close to me.”
- “I don’t know who I truly am or feel underconfident and that makes it hard for me to connect with others.”
My Mirror’s experienced psychologists are on hand to help you create and maintain meaningful connections.
You may also like to read: