Social connections and well-being go hand in hand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, connectedness can influence your mental and physical health and even life expectancy. It can improve symptoms of depression and boost overall mood and attitude toward life. Studies also confirm its impact on blood pressure and a variety of other physical health factors.
However, social connections have deteriorated dramatically alongside the technological and economic progressions of the past couple of decades. Many people spend more time alone than with their loved ones. In fact, around 60% of Americans feel lonely on a frequent basis.
If you think your social life has dwindled, too, for whatever reason, then it is time you take serious action to reignite relationships. Wondering how? Here’s what we suggest.
Prioritize Social Connections
Modern life is full of responsibilities, often more than you can handle. When too much is on your plate, your social life could naturally take a back seat. If this sounds like you, make an effort to push it up ahead in your daily to-do list. Remember, you get done what you prioritize—it is as simple as that.
Consider why socializing matters to you—you may be feeling increasingly lonely or need to let off steam and relax. Picture what you stand to gain by renewing social connections. Understand its possible impact on your mental well-being.
If finding time is a struggle, make time once a month and gradually increase it to a weekly activity. Allocate a specific day each month or week for social interactions until it becomes a habit.
And it doesn’t always need to involve an elaborate activity. Just pick up the phone and call a loved one. It could even be someone you haven’t spoken with for years, like your best friend in high school or an old neighbor.
Of course, in-person interactions are always better for nurturing relationships with friends and family. Meet someone for a coffee, grab dinner with them after work, invite them for brunch, or drop by their home or workplace for a quick check-in.
Take an Interest in Others
People warm up to those who take a genuine interest in them. Keep this in mind when you are socializing.
If you are constantly at a loss when it comes to striking up a conversation, inquire about personal interests, aspirations, dreams, and goals.
Before you meet someone, learn more about them so you can prepare ahead to steer the conversation. An online search could unearth their social media profiles. These could be invaluable to get to know people a little better. If you are short of time, use PhoneHistory for a quick overview.
Even when meeting someone you are already familiar with, pre-preparation could go a long way in demonstrating an active interest in what matters most to them. It is an effective technique to nurture social bonds faster in a more meaningful way.
Group activities are excellent for building relationships. This is why employers spend thousands of dollars on team-building exercises to foster trust and camaraderie within their organizations.
So, if you want to improve your social life and strengthen relationships, find group activities you can take up with your friends and family. It could be related to a hobby you want to pursue or an interest you all share. It may even be something you have never tried before, like painting, sculpting, learning a new language, or playing an instrument. A regular class could create a weekly routine for everyone to meet up. Even attending a one-off workshop together is an excellent option if time is an issue.
Sports and physical activities are even better for forging closer relationships. They allow you to collaborate as a team in achieving a common goal. This creates the opportunity to understand and leverage each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You also learn to trust and rely on others—an important factor for building stronger relationships.
Even hiking with friends or camping with kids is perfect for creating effective bonding experiences over shared interests.
Work on Your Social Skills
If you are an introvert, social situations likely make you uncomfortable. If that is the case, here are a few tips to hone your social skills and create connections with confidence.
- Adopt body language that makes you more approachable. The simplest thing to do is to make eye contact and smile. Also, remember to stand straight with a relaxed and open posture.
- Have a few conversation starters ready at hand to avoid long, awkward pauses. If you struggle to find anything in common to talk about, focus on the other person. Ask them about work, hobbies, and anything else that interests them. It is guaranteed to get them talking.
- Brush up your listening skills. Listen intently to what others have to say. Let them finish their trail of thoughts before you speak or respond.
- Be present. Turn off your devices to avoid distractions. Constantly looking at your phone could also make you seem disinterested.
Expand Your Network
If you really want to spice up your social life, look beyond your existing social circles and create new relationships.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Ask out a coworker for lunch or coffee.
- Attend industry forums and conferences.
- Find local events on Meetup, Eventbrite, or a similar app.
- Join a social media community.
- Take a special-interest class or workshop.
- Become a volunteer at a local charity.
All these are excellent opportunities to meet new people and build connections with those who have interests similar to yours.
To Wrap Up
Although technology has enabled seamless connectedness, many people today live in utter isolation, desperately in need of human touch. The quality of your social interactions has a proven impact on your mental and physical well-being.
So, make your social life a priority. Take an active interest in those around you. Activities you can do together could be particularly effective in nurturing relationships. Don’t forget to brush up on your social skills, too. And if you think your social circle is limited, use networking opportunities to meet new people.