Social connections - past, present & future

Here at MensLine Australia we often talk about the power of connections and support networks.  It’s well-documented that having a strong circle of people around you is one of the single most beneficial ways to maintain your mental health. It’s important to recognise the importance of developing and maintaining social connections from the past, present and future. 

Re-establishing past social connections

People that have shared important moments in your life are a great source of support – reliving old happy memories and events is a powerful tool for happiness and ‘reminiscence’ is a common tactic for maintaining emotional health as we age.  Check out this piece for some tips on reconnecting with old friends .

Maintaining present social connections

We’ve all experienced friendships fading over time and to a large extent this is just a part of life, as we transition from one part of our lives to another.  But that doesn’t mean that the people that you want to keep in your life need to fall by the wayside.  With a little effort, you can nurture the current friendships you have to increase the chances of keeping some great friends around you for the long haul!

Tips for keeping your social connections strong:

  • Make a list of the people you care about and want to maintain as friends
  • Set aside some time each week to make contact with one or more of your friends list. If you’re time poor, a text, quick phone call or check up on social media is better than no contact!
  • Make time and show appreciation. Don’t assume your connections know that they’re important – find ways to let them know, either in word or deed
  • Don’t expect too much. We’ve all got our own little soap opera going on in our daily lives and its easy to get caught up in it.  If your friend ‘goes AWOL’ or is out of touch for a while, don’t take it personally, get in touch and let them know you’re available whenever they’re free.
  • Accept them for who they are, including the shortcomings. Nobody’s perfect as they say – taking the good with the bad is what it’s all about.
  • Be honest with your connections, without being hurtful. This one shouldn’t need too much explanation, but a true friend genuinely cares about the people in their lives and will find gentle ways to be upfront with those they care about.
  • Embrace quality connection over quantity. Better to have a handful of great friends than heaps of acquaintances who you cannot rely on.
  • Follow up. Maintaining regular contact is key to make sure people don’t fade into the background
  • Remember the little things. Simple things like remembering birthdays is the cornerstone of a good relationship.
  • Celebrate their wins. Even if their success gives you a little twinge of jealousy, success in the lives of those you care for should be celebrated.
  • Be there for their losses. Be the person that others can turn to when they need to talk, and you will get it back in return.
  • Get a routine happening. Even if you can’t see them regularly, it can be helpful to have a periodic catch-up scheduled – sometimes a regular event is easier to maintain than playing musical calendars!
  • Remember the Golden Rule – Treat others the way you would like to be treated!

Maintaining connections is not about the big gestures – it’s all about simple little things, consistency of connection is the secret!

Creating new social connections

Life throws up changes that means that some people won’t always stay in your life.  It’s important to keep trying to grow and meet new people who are on your wavelength.  This post has some great tips for ‘finding your people’ .

 

More information

Here’s a handful of other information pieces on connections and the value they can bring to your life:

https://mensline.org.au/blog/creating-a-support-network/

https://mensline.org.au/blog/family-friends-and-carers-help-men/

https://mensline.org.au/tips-and-tools/separation-later-life/

 

If you need to talk to someone, give one of our MensLine Australia counsellors a call on 1300 78 99 78 or register for online chat.

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