The feeling of connectedness is a wonderful, powerful part of being human – connectedness is when you value, care for, trust, respect and feel close to others, and they do the same for you. When you’re connected to others, you nourish your emotional and physical well-being and you boost your ability to manage challenges in life. Having solid relationships and feeling connected to people in your life can actually protect you from experiencing mental health problems. Read on to learn about how relationships and connectedness can impact several areas of your life.
How relationships and connectedness help your physical health
Believe it or not, research has shown that a feeling of connectedness with others is directly associated with boosting your health – things such as blood pressure, your immune system, your stress hormones and length of life are positively impacted by strong social ties. Also, connectedness can have an indirect impact on your health because a caring connection with people who value your health and show concern for your well-being can actually help you take care of yourself. Sometimes you need a family member or friend to notice that you are sick or to get you to go for the care you might need.
How relationships and connectedness help your emotional health
Connections with others help us feel valued, cared about, and respected. These feelings boost your self-esteem, help you feel safe, and give you strength to face difficulties in life. If you are able to recognize the positive feelings that you experience with others, you’re more likely to turn to friends, loved ones or teachers, etc., for help when you’re facing emotional challenges or they can step in to support or help you when you are having difficulties. Being able to connect to others when you’re struggling is a powerful and positive coping skill.
What about shy or introverted people?
Some people are naturally shy, reserved, quiet and/or inward looking – they might not be comfortable with groups or crowds – so does this mean they can’t feel connectedness? No, of course they experience connectedness – it just doesn’t look the same as it does for more outgoing people. The feeling of connectedness is inside of you, so if you are a person who is content with one good friend, or a few strong family ties, or a strong sense of connectedness to a cause, or a goal or institution (like a school, team or place of worship, etc.) that’s meaningful to you, you can experience connectedness in just the same way as a more socially outgoing person does.
Connectedness and being alone
The ability to be alone is a very good life skill – since you can’t be with the people you love and enjoy 24/7, it is really important to learn how to soothe and occupy yourself without depending on others to do it for you all the time. You can enjoy and benefit from being alone as long as you use the opportunity to make it a positive and self-nurturing experience. Interestingly, it seems that people who have a stable and strong sense of connection to others are best able to manage and enjoy time spent alone. Sometimes, people equate being alone with the feeling of loneliness – this can stir up negative and even painful thoughts and feelings like boredom and isolation. If you have a sense of connectedness, and develop ways to enjoy your time being alone, you’ll be able to manage the times when you’re by yourself – you might even find that it’s not such a bad thing (sometimes it is very productive to quietly think, daydream, or read by yourself) Learn more about the benefits of being alone here.