Visiting different countries can sometimes be a struggle when it comes to the language barrier because I sadly do not speak any other language. Y’know besides the basics of bonjour, guten tag and namaste…and also mitho chha which is ‘delicious’ in Nepali. A phrase I probably overused in desperation to connect with people (and the food was actually mitho chha).
During a visit to a french restaurant I again came up against the same challenge but the waiter was so lovely and asked if I knew any French. I replied ‘not really sorry but I do know a french song’. Of course he then expected me to sing it! So, I began ‘Sur le Pont d’Avignon, L’on y danse, l’on y danse….’ and suddenly he beamed and started singing with me. It was quite comical but also such a great feeling to connect with a person that I initially struggled to communicate with. This was a small moment but one I will cherish. The small moments count.
The term ‘connect’ refers to spending time with our friends, family or generally our communities. Connecting with others is a good way to boost our wellbeing as building relationships with those around us makes us happier, more secure and gives us a greater sense of purpose. Research has found building connections with people helps fight against mental illnesses as a support network is important for the good and the bad times we face.
There are so many reasons to prioritise spending time with those around us. Have you ever had a crappy day and just couldn’t be bothered to be around people but much to your dread you’ve got that occasion you have to go to. Can you recall how you felt afterwards? Did you feel a slight boost in your mood? More often than not we feel better when we socialise and engage in other areas of life instead of focussing on that thing that was bothering us earlier.
This may not work so well if the engagement is with a person that has a negative impact on you but that’s a whole other topic. We might find that different people bring out different parts of our personalities which serve different needs in our life. Maybe you have a person to have fun with but that isn’t necessarily the same person you go to for help. None the less, both these areas of need are important and finding ways to fulfil them will alter our wellbeing.
Reasons we don’t connect with those around us as well as we should
There may be a whole load of reasons this area of wellbeing is not being satisfied – is the first one ‘time’?. ‘I’m too busy’ and there may well be points in our life that we genuinely cannot squeeze anymore in but we shouldn’t make this our way of living because interaction improves our health in more ways than we realise. You may even be relying on telephone contact or social media and that is fine but also aim for some real human contact.
Perhaps you are reading this thinking ‘well I haven’t got much family and hardly any friends’. So all the more reason to connect! For some people confidence may be the issue. Perhaps you don’t feel able to strike up a conversation in the queue or join a club. It might make you sweat but this is a stepping stone towards improving how you feel. Maybe you class yourself as an introvert and like spending time alone…but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t connect with other people.
How can we connect more?
The big problem (but also great thing) of today is technology that restricts our abilities to develop real deep-rooted connections. Sometimes we need to put the phone away and make quality time to spend with family and friends. I hear lots of people setting phone bans which is great to avoid distractions and be in the moment. This is something my Dad (annoyingly at the time) enforced during meal times – he would walk around with a bowl and collect everyone’s phones which meant we had to actually talk. How’s about inviting some friends around and enforcing your own phone ban – you’ll be popular! Or arrange a fun day out for family or friends or both.
Maybe you’ve mastered the family and friend’s thing but want to get more involved with your community . Why not visit your community hub or keep an eye out for clubs in the area. Try to have an open mind and put yourself out there. We can be quick to jump to assumptions and decide we don’t like something before giving it a real shot. Engage in conversation, ask questions and find common ground with people. Whether that’s in a club or whilst walking the dog; connections can be made with everyone and anyone.
Read more about developing new friendships
“In order for connections to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen – really seen”.