Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Why keeping connected is good for you.

Do you ever find that sometimes connections with friends drift?  The text messages become less frequent, the phone calls slowly die out, the emails dry up and the catch up over coffee never quite seems to happen?  It wasn't the plan, it just kind of happened unconsciously and slipped under the radar.

This happened to me quite recently.  I hadn't been in touch with a friend of mine for over a year....I know!.  This wasn't a concious decision by either of us.  It was just one of those situations that drifted.  I wanted to get back in touch but I felt as it had been so long that it needed a long heart felt text, email, phone call explanation.  Therefore I felt I needed time to sit down and compose this and think about what to say.

I'm ashamed to say that in reality this didn't happen.  I planned to sit down and make the call, write the text but then something cropped up and as I'd built this task in my head to be something big, I felt I couldn't just slot it in to a quick spare minute.  

I felt it warranted more than a "sorry I haven't been in touch for ages, how are you?"

But I was wrong.  How can saying nothing, to someone I consider a friend, someone I have shared some great fun times with and someone I care about, be better than a quick friendly one minute text?  Answer:  it can't!

Thankfully this story does have a happy ending and my friend and I are back in touch, yippee!  She had been feeling the same as me, wanting to get in contact but thinking a "hello how are you?" wasn't enough after such a long time.  In fact the lengthy of time out of contact grew even longer as we'd created another barrier to getting back in touch!  Madness! We have promised not to leave it so long again and so far we've been true to our word.

Connection and building positive relationships is so important to our mental well-being.  It has been evidenced in the UK Government Foresight Report, Mental Capital and Wellbeing (2008)  that people with strong social relationships with a variety of people are happier, healthier and live longer.  The NHS list "connection" as one of their 5 steps to mental wellbeing based on the Foresight Report.

Close positive relationships with our family and friends provide love and support, a sense of security and the opportunity to learn from each other and support each other giving us a strong sense of purpose and self worth.  Wider connections in our community can give us a sense of belonging where we can share activities and experiences.

In the book Happiness: Unlocking the mysteries of psychological wealth (Diener, E. & Biswas-Diener, R) the connection between positive relationships and happiness is highlighter as being a two way thing; not only do relationships make us happier but also happy people tend to have more and better quality relationships.  Now that sounds like a win win situation!

So there you go, just do it, get in touch, even if it's been ages.  And yes a "sorry I haven't been in touch for ages, how are you?" is good enough and far better than doing nothing!

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