Connection 4 of 5 Ways to better mental health
Glancing at the Newspaper headlines this morning seeing another shooting somewhere, I found myself reflecting as to how much pain so many people are in. If that gunman felt truly connected then I don’t believe this would have happened. When we are seen and heard by others we feel so much better about ourselves, we feel less pain and have no need then to express that pain in unpleasant or self – destructive ways. The power of connection can change individual’s communities and countries.
We are not designed to function alone! Even those of us who are shy or really like our own space need connection of some sort. Being with other people is vital to our mental well-being. People who spend vast amounts of time simply in their own company can become introspective and for those of us who are feeling under pressure in some way, this can lead to a negative downward spiral of internal conversation. Rumination or constant worry is very bad for our mental well-being.
Simply smiling at a stranger or chatting to the person at the checkout can make both them and us feel better. When we are with other people it is hard to remain completely in our own head. Doing things for other people takes us out of ourselves and gives us a sense of value and self-worth that it is harder to find a lone. Most of us need to feel needed and wanted in some way; when we do things with or for other people we can get those feelings along with a sense of belonging. Researchers found that residents in an old peoples home were much happier if they had a pot plant to look after than if they didn’t. That sense of being needed made a difference in their lives. The positive effect of the connection with pets for people who live alone is also well documented. So even plants or pets are better than nothing!
Do things for others without expectation. Make your colleague a cup of tea because you can and in that one small act of kindness you can feel better in yourself. If at some stage he does the same for you then you can enjoy that moment simply for what it is. Check out your weekly routine, do you make enough opportunities to go and have fun with other people. Joining a club, volunteer somewhere, or head on down to a local event and see what is going on near you. Find ways to interact regularly with like-minded people so you can give to others and find support for yourself community and belonging are vital for our mental well-being. Don’t wait for people to come to you go out and find at least one other person and say hello.
“There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet” William Butler Yeats