The current COVID outbreak has seen many pack up their hot desks and say goodbye to their colleagues to resort back to the working from home conditions we got used to in 2020.
Whilst there were some benefits with the increases in flexibility, time management and reduced time spent commuting – a major issue to arise out of remote working was a loss in connection.
The need to interact with our loved ones, co-workers and friends is fundamental to mental health and being socially active and connected has been shown to be a protective factor against anxiety and depression and can increase your feelings of self-worth. There are even benefits for our physical health too, studies have identified links between strong social connections and an improved immune system and longer lifespan.
But – in the fast paced and disconnected world we live in, it can be hard to build and retain these strong connections so here are some ways to improve our social connectedness that you can try:
- Reach out to an old friend: In our busy lives it can be hard to find the time to build new connections, so focusing on friends or contacts in our current social circle can be a better alternative, try reaching out to a friend or co-worker you haven’t spoken to in a while
- Pick up the phone and call instead of texting: phone calls create stronger bonds than text-based communication. Research has shown that people feel significantly more connected when they communicated by talking rather than typing.
- Video chat: If you are in a COVID lockdown situation or separated from your social contacts overseas – try scheduling regular video chat calls with friends and family: maintaining regular contact with friends or family is imperative for reducing feelings of social isolation and improving connection. Use video calling platforms to improve your interaction with face-to-face communication.
- In the workplace – starting the day with a video call team meeting can be a good way to boost team morale, allow everyone to see each other’s faces and maintain that social connection. Further – creating stronger bonds with your co-works through social sports or trivia nights etc. can help to show value for your co-workers as a person not just for the work you do together and lead to a stronger sense of connection.
- Be physically present: If possible being physically present with loved ones creates a strong bond. Play a board game, enjoy a meal together, share stories or catch up for a walk.
- Put your phone away when engaging in social interactions with those in your community so you are able to fully engage with others. Social connection is a sense of belonging and feeling cared for. Being distracted by your phone can lead to you missing out on the chances to boost your sense of social connectedness.
This is the first in our WWNSW Wellbeing Series – we are aiming to share articles, resources and tips weekly with advice from our EAP program to manage stress and promote wellbeing in and out of the workplace.