We all know that for great wellbeing we need good food, water, great sleep and exercise but connection with others is absolutely critical too!

Low levels of social connection creates a decline in mental health which then leads to further isolation.

So many of us pull away from the people who support us at exactly the times we need them most — when we’re going through a divorce, facing a financial crisis, or losing enjoyment in our workplace. Adding the stress of bottled up emotions to already challenging times only leads to health problems down the road.

Look at just a few of the ways that focusing on your personal connections can make this your healthiest, happiest year yet.

Friendships and Personal Connections can add years to your life

Research has shown that the effects of positive social connections on a life span is equal to that of major healthy lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking. Isn’t that amazing!

The quantity of personal connections in your life makes a difference, but not as much as the quality of those relationships. A few close friends that you have cultivated strong relationships with will win out over a larger circle of acquaintances every time.

It has been shown that people who have strong personal connections often show lower levels of stress in their lives. This is probably because they talk and connect more about their life and what is going on for them.   A reliable sounding board to vent frustrations with, doesn’t hurt either.

Good Friends Can Be a Great Influence in your life

Are you wanting to achieve some major health and fitness goals? Make sure that you have a few likeminded friends by your side to help you!

Do you have people in your life that could use your healthy influence, or do you have a friend whose healthy choices you admire? Start spending more time together. Positive health habits are just as contagious as negative ones among personal connections – become positive influences in each other’s lives.

Connections inspire creativity

Do you feel like you’re lacking some creativity in your life?

Connecting with friends and loved ones is a great way to re-inspire interests and creativity. Quality time with creative and like-minded friends can be just the thing to motivate and inspire. The next time you are sitting home, alone and bored, find someone to go do something creative with.

Friendships Keep Your Mind Sharp

There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. We all know that some alone time can be restorative and what you need. It’s also good for your body and soul to learn how to be alone, enjoy your own company and cherish the silence every now and then. Alone time isn’t a bad thing. Loneliness, on the other hand, is.  Loneliness is the feeling of being isolated and disconnected from everyone else and our mines become more closed off to new opportunities.

So, if you want to keep your mind sharp, now and for years to come, make a point of staying connected. Even if you don’t currently feel like you have the strongest network of personal connections, you can still foster a sense of belonging in your community.

4 Tips for Cultivating Personal Connections

Friendships and personal connections are a beautiful thing so here are 4 tips to get you started on cultivating more great friendships:

  • Start by making time. The number one thing that stands in the way between more people and stronger connections is the perception that there just isn’t enough time. When you make time, you find time. Spending time with people you care about or building new friendships relaxes you and helps you feel less stressed and burdened.
  • Make the first move. Instead of waiting for others to come to you, be the one to initiate more time together. Whether it’s a friend that you’ve lost touch with, or that mum from your kid’s school that you think you would enjoy hanging around, reach out and initiate a stronger connection.
  • Embrace curiosity. One of the keys to fostering strong personal connections is the ability to let go of judgements and ideas about how others should be. Push past judgements and try connecting with the person that you think you have nothing in common with. You might end up surprised at how much they bring to your life.
  • Be vulnerable, let go and trust. You can’t strengthen relationships when you have a wall built around yourself.

Human beings provide a social web that holds us all up. So call your mum, sister, brother, get back in touch with a school friend, make a plan to have coffee with an old work pal, send a thank-you note to your high school teacher. It has been proven time and time again – If you surround yourself with support, you can weather the bad times with less stress and add years to your life. Reach out and connect for a healthier, happier you.