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‘Connect’ with others to elevate your mental health (MHAW 2023)

Two men connecting with each other over a coffee to avoid loneliness.

It’s Thursday and time to embrace the theme of ‘Connect’ or ‘Whakawhanaunga’ for Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). Today, we emphasise the power of meaningful connections.

Connecting is at the heart of our wellbeing. It’s about the bonds we form with others, making each other feel seen, heard and understood. Meaningful connections enrich our lives and contribute significantly to our happiness.

Loneliness is a warning signal

In the olden days, being part of a tribe ensured our physical safety, protecting us from famine and war. Our bodies have evolved to tell us to stay close to other people and stay connected, for safety sake. But our cities and lifestyles are no longer built with connection and community in mind. We don’t always have the central town squares or places of worship at the centre of our communities, for example.  We are also conducting so much of our lives online now that we are engaging less and less with people in real life.

The warning signal we get when we don’t stay connected is the feeling of loneliness which,  according to one study, is more dangerous to our health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is associated with an increased risk of depression and cognitive decline.

If you are feeling lonely, interpret this as your alarm to go out and socialise!

Tips for connecting with others

Human Connection Specialist, Simone Heng says that 1 in 3 Australians are lonely and they are not just people in rest homes as you might think, they are also 18 year olds who might be masking their loneliness. She gives the following suggestions and advice for people who are feeling lonely:

  • Set up a social committee at your workplace.
  • Set weekly and monthly reminders to reach out to friends to catch up.
  • While we all need a mix of types of friends from intimate to micro connections, generally look for quality over quantity in your friends. Focus on cultivating a few meaningful connections rather than spreading yourself too thin.
  • If you are an introvert, use your excellent listening skills to connect with someone. Or take an extrovert friend with you to a social function – they will do all the heavy lifting and act as a social ‘wing person’.  
  • Wear bright colours in social situations to be more eye-catching and attract people’s attention.
  • Volunteer your time to help out a person or organisation. You will find people with similar values.
  • Being vulnerable allows you to connect with others more deeply.
  • Ultimately to be able to engage with others you need to have a relationship and connect first with yourself.
  • Seek out hobbies with like-minded people.

This Thursday and going forward, embrace ‘Connect’ as a cornerstone of your wellbeing. Recognise the profound influence of connections on your mental health. In a world that can sometimes pull us apart, it’s the bonds we form with others that nourish our souls and elevate our mental health. So reach out, be vulnerable and prioritise these vital connections in your life, as they hold the power to transform your wellbeing.

Do you experience intense anxiety about social situations? Is it affecting your quality of life? You can check in on your mental health with Loffty comprehensive online mental health assessment. We cover 33 different mental health conditions including social anxiety and produce an instant report that you can share with a mental health professional of your choice.