Humans are wired for connection. So much so, in fact, that we tend to live longer and healthier lives when we have strong relationships with others. Here’s how to build and nurture social connection, reclaiming the powerful benefits of togetherness.
Find everyday opportunities to model positive socialization
- Say hello to others on the street or open the door for the person behind you.
- Engage in active listening. Put away your phone, avoid interrupting, and give your full attention to the speaker (including when that speaker is a child!).
- Emphasize quality over quantity. Reflect on how appreciative you were for a close friend who dropped by for a visit (versus how many likes your most recent post got on Instagram).
Help your kids if they struggle with social anxiety
- Work together to uncover the situations (going to a sleepover), thoughts (“Everybody will laugh at me if I say something wrong”), and physical sensations (stomach butterflies or racing heart) that accompany anxiety.
- Learn coping strategies. Practise mindfulness and relaxation strategies to help your child “ride out” the physical sensations of anxiety. Strategize ways in which your child could cope if their “worst case scenario” happened, focusing on the things they can control (“If you said something embarrassing, what could you do next?”).
- Balance thinking. Help your child evaluate how realistic their thoughts are (“Will everyone really laugh at you if you make a mistake, or does it just feel that way?”).
Choose more green, less screen
- Once a day, spend at least 20 minutes unplugged outside (such as playing in the backyard or taking a walk around the block).
- Once a week, plan a nature-based family activity (such as a picnic in the park, hiking a nature trail, or digging a garden patch).
- Ditch the guilt. It’s the last thing busy parents need. Instead of ruminating on the extra TV time your kids had today, focus on the half-hour you spent watering the flowers together outside.
- Use screens when needed. As anyone who’s been separated from loved ones knows, FaceTime can be a meaningful way to keep in touch. Where possible, socializing virtually should enhance—not replace—in-person connection.
By Dr. Amy Green, R.Psych
BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.
Article copyright 2023 by Alive Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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