All Australians can benefit from having strong social connections, yet certain Australians may be more vulnerable than others to losing social connections or never forming a level of social connection that meets their needs.
Elderly Australians, those living with a disability, and immigrants to Australia may sometimes be more prone to limited social connectedness due to their unique circumstances and life challenges.
In this article, we will explore a few reasons why social connections are so important and provide pointers on how to maintain them in your own life or in the lives of those you love and care for.
1. Improved wellbeing
Staying connected with others can provide one with a sense of belonging and purpose. Regular social engagements can give us something to look forward to. By spending time with friends, one can gain a sense that the challenges in life are shared challenges and that we’re not alone. We can also learn new ways of coping with and navigating these shared challenges, while also having a good time and celebrating the best things in life.
2. Improved mental health
Limited social connection can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation and increase the risk of mental ill-health, such as anxiety and depression. It can also increase antisocial behaviour, such as violence. This in turn makes it harder to form social connections. By taking care to create connections, you can establish the correct environment for mental wellness. Social connections also build empathy and self-esteem, both of which make friendships easier.
3. Improved physical health
It is more immediately obvious that social connections would impact one’s mental health, but there is also a body of evidence to suggest that social connections play an important role in keeping us in good physical health. Not having social connections has been said to be worse than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure when it comes to health outcomes.
How to maintain social connections
Here are a few ways you might consider maintaining or developing social connections:
- Participate in a club or a group activity on a regular basis. Search online for clubs or groups that suit you.
- Find ways to get out into the community where possible, for example by going shopping or eating out.
- Message friends who you haven’t connected with in a while. They may be just as keen as you to catch up again.
- Look for volunteering opportunities that will connect you with like-minded people.
- Look into your support options, such as helplines and counselling options, if you are struggling.
- Use modern technology to communicate with others and set up in-person catch ups, rather than only connecting online.
- Partner with an organisations like St John’s Community Care who can support you on your journey to finding and maintaining social connections.
Our community care services not-for-profit organisation, St John’s Community Care, provides community transport, multicultural social support groups, friendship groups, centre based respite, overnight respite, long-day respite, in-home respite, and short-term respite care.
Our disability care branch also offers a young lifestyle village, supportive independent living, “Hammer Time” or Men’s Shed, and assisted community participation.
If you or your loved ones living with disability or entering older age could benefit from increased connectedness, find out the best aged care near me today to discuss how they can help with maintaining and developing social connections.
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