Connection is vital to our well-being—it doesn’t just affect us socially but physically, mentally, and emotionally as well. In fact, one study found that lacking social connection is more harmful to our health than smoking, high blood pressure, or obesity.1
On the other hand, strong connectedness leads to 50% increased chance of longevity as well as a boosted immune system.1 The 2021 World Happiness Report also found that those who are connected to others had greater life satisfaction, more resiliency, and better mental health.2
Because we believe in the many benefits of connection, we want to share how to get connected. Whether you’re looking for a community to belong to, a church to be part of, a friend to be known and seen by, or someone to talk about the struggles in your life, there’s hope for you! You are not alone and connection is possible.
Why Should You Connect?
There are many reasons to connect with others; let’s dive into them now!
Struggles in Life
Life isn’t easy for anyone, no matter what people might say. We all go through difficult seasons, situations, and struggles that disrupt our lives. But the hope we have is that we don’t have to go through this by ourselves. You don’t have to isolate yourself when you struggle or hide what you’re going through. In fact, it’s not healthy to do so.
Studies have found that talking about our problems with someone greatly reduces stress and distress in our minds and bodies.3 Talking also helps us open up, name our feelings, and share those negative feelings with another person. Doing this can actually help heal our emotional pain and keep us more centered and clear minded to work through problems.
Friendships and Relationships
We cannot overstate the importance of having quality relationships in your life—whether that be with friends, family, a mentor, or a significant other. Especially for your mental health. Important relationships in your life and having people you can trust serve as support systems as you go through life. Research found that those with a social support network had an average stress level of 5 out of 10 versus 6.3 out of 10 for those without support.4
Feeling lonely is one of the worst feelings. You could be surrounded by people and still feel incredibly alone. When you either get this feeling or are physically alone (or both), it’s easy to want to isolate yourself or to believe no one can ever be there for you. But, it’s actually when you are feeling lonely that it's even more important to open up and talk to someone. Reaching out when you feel alone, as difficult as we know it is, can begin to rewire your brain and allow you to believe that people do care about you and you don’t have to isolate.
Last, but not least, reaching out to find a church community to belong to is a great way to connect! These are people who share similar beliefs and values as you, and is a place you can gather and participate in your faith together. Churches often also have outreach programs where you can connect with others throughout the local community. Church can also be a great place to find a support system, like we mentioned earlier. In a church community, you can be seen, known, and loved by others and find a place where you can belong.
Who to Get Connected With
If we know it’s important to get connected, then it’s also important to know who to open up to. We’ve put together a short—but not extensive—list below to give you a few ideas. Many of which come from the reasons for connecting mentioned above.
Other trusted people in your life (mentor, teacher, neighbor, etc.)
Church member or pastor
Peer support group
We also know it can sometimes be hard to find people to connect with—especially if you feel you don't have someone in your life already. If this is you, we want to share with you our free guide on ways to connect with others rightnow. In it, we give you 15 unique ideas to try out to expand your circle, make a new friend, and build those solid relationships.
To wrap up this post, we want to provide tips to set you up for success when you connect with people!
Be Your Authentic Self
You were created uniquely to be you and no one else. Therefore, you should show up as your authentic self when connecting with people—new and established relationships alike. Of course, if you're meeting someone for the first time, you don’t have to spill your entire life story. However, don’t try to be someone you're not or just who someone wants you to be, it’ll only backfire on you later on.
This ties in with being your authentic self, but it also goes deeper. Being honest can be hard at times because we want people to like us and are afraid that being honest will put that at risk. But, if you’re not truthful with people, no one can know the real you and walk with you in what you’re going through—especially when opening up about things you’re struggling with. You don’t want to be mean or brutal or inappropriate, but being honest with yourself and others about where you’re at, what you need help with, who you are, etc. will build deeper connections.
Move Past Surface Level
Many connections fail because they stop at the surface level, which can be okay for a little bit, but eventually runs a relationship dry. Again, you don’t have to ask deep questions or share dark secrets the first time you meet someone. However, there are some ideas to move beyond surface level while still being appropriate and respectful of where you’re at with this other person (new friend vs. trusted family member for example).
First, practice using deep, unique conversation starters rather than the typical “how are you?”, “what do you do?”, “how’s your week been?” kind of questions. Examples to try are below. These questions allow you to have a longer, more meaningful conversation as you meet new people or connect with those in your life.
What has been the highlight of your week?
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Do you have any hobbies?
What’s the best movie you’ve seen or book you’ve recently read?
Second, when someone answers, don’t just smile and move on. Ask follow-up questions about their life or the answers they give, or share a story of how you can relate. These types of things allow you to build a stronger connection and really get to know someone.
Going first means you are inviting someone to connect with you—whether that’s a conversation, meeting to catch up, doing something fun together, etc. We get that this can sound intimidating. What if they say no or reject you? What if you don’t know what to say? What if they think you’re weird? These are all thoughts that might be running through your head.
But you know what? They are most likely running through the other person’s head too. By going first to initiate the conversation or ask them to do something with you, you are showing your interest in building a friendship, relationship, and connection with them. And, you might even help them if they are feeling nervous too. It can pay off to be brave and go first!
In today’s world, there are millions of distractions swarming around us at all times, which, in turn, often makes it difficult to be present. However, being present in a moment or conversation is what allows us to really connect with someone. It also allows us to actively listen and participate in the conversation. Next time you catch up with a friend or connect with someone new, practice removing distractions as best you can and really focus on being present. You might surprise yourself with how much more you enjoy your time and conversation.
If you are looking to connect, we want to leave you with two opportunities to get connected below. Remember, you are never alone!