How do you cultivate strong, healthy social connections?
I have up and moved to a new city several times over the last fifteen years or so. Most of these moves have been career-driven, but some of them were financial choices, while others sprang from a need to “shake things up.” Each time I made a big move, as exciting as it was to start a new job or a new adventure, one element of starting over I have found particularly difficult and often leaves me feeling down and lonely is saying goodbye to the people I love and having to start anew with making friends.
Finding people with whom I feel a connection of friendship, trust and love seems to make everything else in life easier and more joyful. I imagine I am not alone in this! The loss of social connections makes those first few months after a move a bit more challenging in all areas of life. It also means discovering ways to get out to meet new friends is a top priority.
Researchers at Gallup define “social well-being” as having strong relationships and love in your life. They have found that those who cultivate positive relationships with others in close proximity to them experience better physical and mental health, citing studies on the impact of good social relationships in areas ranging from stress management, work place satisfaction, and job engagement, to wound recovery and memory retention while aging.
Each person has a different comfort level when it comes to social interaction. An introvert may prefer the company of just family and one or two good friends. Conversely, an extrovert thrives on collecting large groups of friends to socialize with. Regardless of where you fall on the scale, these relationships play critical roles in our ability to thrive in all other aspects of our lives.
When these relationships are not healthy, it leaves us feeling stressed, misunderstood, ruins self-confidence, and disrupts our ability to function well in almost all life situations. Leaving behind old friendships, work relationships and love relationships that no longer support our sense of well-being can be an extremely difficult but very necessary part of our health.
How do you go about cultivating strong, healthy social relationships?
Laura Ingalls, BFA, CPT, CHHC