5 questions to ask yourself when you’re feeling disconnected – by Harriet Sneath, WoWWizard of Training
The word connection has a real buzz around it at the moment – Feeling connected means different things to different people. Of all the 5 ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Stay Active, Keep Learning, Give & Take Notice), connection is as crucial for us as oxygen, water, coffee or chocolate. Without it, we may as well live the life of a hermit crab because, as innately social creatures, we humans need connection even if we don’t think we do. Let’s unravel this further…
‘It’s the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued. When they can give and receive without judgement, when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.’ Brene Brown on connection.
Brene Brown, in my humble opinion, has THE best definition of what connection is. If we are seen but not heard, how does that make us feel? If we are judged on how we look, do we feel great? Probably not, so how do we achieve the heady heights of great connections every day in every nook and cranny of our lives?
We are all so busy nowadays, trying to strike a balance between work, school, hobbies, home life etc that our social connections are falling by the wayside. I, for one, struggle to fit it all in. It would appear that technology is keeping us more and more connected but the screens we surround ourselves with actually disconnect us from nature, ourselves, and others. As a self-confessed luddite, I definitely do not find my most meaningful connections on a screen but in the physical company of others. When we’re on our screens, we cannot take notice of the beauty around us so how can a What’sApp message be any substitute for a good old-fashioned hug and a catch up?
Connecting with others is a crucial ingredient to a long and happy life. Loneliness is on the rise with more people using technology to stay ‘connected’ with their tribe rather than meeting face to face. Face-to-face social connections can help lower anxiety, help us regulate our emotions and even boost our immune systems. Having good connections is also linked to higher self-esteem and empathy levels. Conversely, if we lack robust social connections, the long-term repercussions on our health are greater than the risks of smoking, obesity and high blood pressure, according to research carried out by Emma Seppala Ph.D. at Stanford University.
The first indication for me that my connections are depleted is a decline in my zest for life. When I feel this flat and lacking oomph, I ask myself these 5 questions:
If I’ve been working from home, the chances are I haven’t spoken to anyone all day – this is easily remedied with a phone call to a loved one, a catch up at the school gate or a good chat and a hug with my son when he gets home.
Sometimes, just talking over the phone is not enough. If I make just a little effort to see people in my circle, I will get a hug, a listening ear and even a few belly laughs, leaving me feeling tip top again.
Have I had enough food (the right kinds of food!) Are my sleep patterns ok? How much sugar have I been eating? Diet, rest and exercise are all make or break factors of feeling good connection for me. By looking after myself, I am connecting with myself; and this is a good start.
My score will indicate what action I may need to take; this gives me a starting point for boosting my feelings of connection.
I’m not talking about a 360-degree lifestyle switch or anything that dramatic, just a small change here and there. For example, when working from home, once a week I try to work from a local café instead of my dining room. A change of scenery can do wonders for how you feel.
My elderly parents are a good example of how strong connection keeps us mentally strong. At age 89 and 90 they have known each other since childhood and their marriage is in its 66th year. They have supported and cared for each other all their adult lives, secure in the knowledge that they have each other when the going gets tough. Without their mutual connection, they may not have thrived as well as they have over the decades. Obviously, they can bicker like the best of them but they have each other’s backs and that is what makes the difference.