Recent studies have been looking at loneliness and how connecting with people can positively improve your mental health, social health, and wellbeing. For some of us, this may be easy, but for others, social relationships and situations can leave us feeling a little awkward.
So what are some of the ways we can improve our social relationships?
We have some advice below that you can try in different social situations at home, at work, and when you’re out and about. You can pick and choose what works for you or what you think will be manageable.
- Don’t dwell: Don’t overthink the situation or what people will think about you. Instead of focusing on yourself, shift it to the person and the conversation.
- Actively listen: Take the time to listen and ask questions. Nodding and giving positive prompts (e.g. I see) helps the person know that you are paying attention. Try not to interrupt when the person is speaking.
- Don’t get distracted: Related to the point above, while talking to someone, don’t get distracted by an alert on your phone or something on the TV.
- Don’t be afraid of small talk: Engaging in small talk can help you to find something in common with the person.
- Say their name: Saying someone’s name can show that you care. If you have forgotten their name, don’t stress (it happens).
- Prep: If you know the situation you are going into, try prepping some questions in advance (e.g. How was your journey? What was your favourite part of the movie?). You may not need the questions, but it can make you less nervous knowing you have something to say.
- Relax: If you are nervous, try breathing in deeply and out slowly a few times to help you relax before you meet someone.
- Change is OK: Friendships and relationships often change over time – someone you may have been close to years ago is no longer a big part of your life. Accepting that change is normal will help you to adapt.
- Take part: Look for opportunities to take part in volunteering activities and community events. Meeting people with similar interests can help you feel more connected.
And finally, the quantity of social relationships isn’t as important as the quality of those relationships. Take the time to appreciate and enjoy the experience of connecting with people.
If you are struggling and need to talk a counsellor, SuicideLine Victoria is open 24/7. Call us on 1300 651 251.
If it is an emergency, dial 000.