Humans have a fundamental need to interact with others, to be socially active and to feel connected. Widespread research that shows evidence of the value social connectedness has on mental health. Being connected to others can be a protective factor against anxiety and depression, and can increase your feelings of happiness and self-worth. Despite this, many in our population are experiencing a deficit of social connection.
Social connection doesn’t mean physically being present, it’s someone’s subjective experience of feeling understood and connected to others. It includes a sense of belonging, feeling cared for, and gives purpose. It’s not about the number of friends you have, the number of groups you are a part of, or how much time you spend socialising. The benefits of social connection come from your internal and subjective sense of connection.
Social connection improves your physical, mental and emotional health. Studies have shown proven links between strong social connectedness and a strengthened immune system and longer lifespan. Mental health benefits include lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, improved confidence and reduced levels of stress. Because of strong social connection, people experience greater empathy, and are more open to trusting and cooperating with others thereby strengthening relationships.
Feeling connected to others can have a significant positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. However, the level of social connection we desire varies from one person to the next. For many of us, having a busy life can make spending time with people difficult. One way to strengthen your social connectedness is to reach out to the people you already know, who are already a part of your communities. Strong social connections with family and friends provide opportunities for us to share positive experiences, receive emotional support and support others.
Internal disruptions that create poor sleep are caused by your mind (mental) or your body (physical). Mental disruptions can be due to your mind being too active to fall asleep. Avoiding taking your worries to bed can be achieved through practicing good strategies such as jotting down your worries and options for managing these; mindfulness strategies; journaling or other emotional regulation techniques before bedtime. Physical disruptions can include breathing problems (such as snoring or sleep apnoea), physical problems interfering with sleep (pain, restless legs) or stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. If you think you have some breathing or physical problems speak to your GP about a referral to a sleep specialist. Further information on the impact of caffeine, nicotine or alcohol on sleep can be found on the Sleep Health Foundation Website.
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