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Social support is one of the most important aspects of good mental health, but it’s also one of the most challenging to acquire. When you’re struggling with anxiety, depression or a mental health disorder, you may feel inclined to withdraw from others. Some might not understand your issues, others may judge you unfairly based on stigma, and more still might simply not be close enough for you to reveal your struggles to. Worst of all, mental health problems can convince us that we’re weak for suffering. You should be able to just “shake it off” and feel better on your own without bothering anyone else. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, reaching out and connecting with others is one of the most powerful ways you can improve how you feel.
In the wake of COVID-19, many of us have become isolated and sheltered. Getting back into the groove of socializing after the pandemic is tough, but even with social distancing, you can learn how to connect and build meaningful relationships with others.
The Importance of Connection
Humans are meant to socialize. Our ancestors only made it by relying on each other. Many of our primal instincts are hand-me-downs from them, and they cause us to feel those “gut feelings” that bind us to other people. Even the evolved emotions of shame and guilt can serve a functional role in a social setting. But what happens when you don’t have any friends, don’t know how to connect with others or feel alone in your own social group?
Mental health suffers when we don’t feel like there’s anyone we can turn to. Lack of understanding or connection affects self-esteem, and you’re more likely to believe that no one cares if there’s no one around helping you believe otherwise.
Why Socializing Is Important for Mental Health
Being socially connected has many benefits, including increased feelings of belonging, less loneliness and improved memory and cognitive skills. Face-to-face talks are best because even in our digital era, the human brain is still built for in-person interaction. However, online communication still has its benefits as long as it’s done in a healthy way. For example, joining a support group or chatting with a friend you know can help you ward off feelings of isolation. Relying too heavily on the internet for socialization, however, can lead to increased loneliness and impact your life negatively.
How to Socialize With Others
After quarantine and social distancing for over a year, many people are afraid to even talk to others or fear they’ve lost the ability to connect. If talking to people makes you nervous or you consider yourself shy, socializing can be an added challenge that makes forming new relationships difficult.
It’s best to start small and work within your comfort zone. Smile at the barista when you grab a coffee, or ask the cashier at the grocery store how their day is going. Call up a friend, or send them a funny picture through text to start a conversation. If you’re looking to meet new people, then joining local clubs or meet-up groups can help you find like-minded individuals in your community.
How Therapy Can Help Loneliness
Whether you struggle to make friends, suffer from a mental health problem or just need someone to talk to, we are always here to listen and help as best we can. Foundations Family Counseling has been helping people build their best lives for more than 15 years.
If you’re looking for therapists in Denver or Littleton, Colorado, please feel free to contact us anytime. Even if you’re nervous about talking to a therapist, we can answer your questions and arrange a virtual session to meet from the comfort of your home.