We’re in the homestretch! Only three more weeks of hard work before… well.. before you continue with all the great work you’ve been putting in. 🙂
This week we’re going to talk about participating.
What does that mean? In our work of taking better care of ourselves, we’ve looked at taking care of our body, emotions, mind, and now… our social self.
Research has shown over and over that social interaction not only helps us be happier, it also has a connection to longevity. Put another way, we live longer, better lives when it includes others.
I talk more about why Women Need a Village in another blog post, so feel free to check that out!
Desire for connection is in the survivalist part of our brain, along with our breath, heartbeat, and sleep. It’s no wonder things like rejection, social isolation, and loneliness are so dangerous for our spirit, then. There’s a reason that Romeo wishes for death over banishment. Banishment is the ultimate punishment because it means a slow, lonely death thinking of all that one has lost.
Humans are social creatures. As individualized as we are in the US, we sometimes lose sight of this. We mistakenly believe we can survive, even thrive, in solitude. We rely on one another in ways beyond what we see each day. If you’re uncertain, just think of what it takes for you to get an apple from the grocery store. Think of all the people that it took to stock those shelves, get the apple to that store, pick, grow, and plant the apple. Think of who invented, built, and maintains the machinery, vehicles, and buildings used to transport that apple. Think of who raised all those people, taught them, fed them, and clothed them. In a strange way, it takes nearly everyone in the world just for you to buy an apple from the store.
I often hear people say they’re simply introverts, and thus don’t like people. I get it, except that isn’t how introverts work. Being an introvert myself, we can appreciate times of solitude to recharge, but ultimately we’re still human and need connection. And in fact, it’s been shown introverts do well in one-on-one or small group (less than 4 people) situations.
I also hear how difficult it can be to make friends these days, with how intent we are on socializing instead through social media. Let’s remember from our unplugged conversation, your brain does not recognize online relationships as social interaction. It needs another warm body in the room to interact with!
Ultimately, what I am asking is for you to participate in your relationships, even when it’s tough. And let’s be honest, depression is tough. Even when all you want is to retreat into the dark softness underneath your covers, even when it feels like nobody cares and that you don’t matter, I’m asking you to reach out. You’re not the only one who struggles, and connection is healing beyond belief. Here are a few ways you can participate in the relationships in your life:
- Call someone. Maybe you find yourself wondering who you would call, frustrated that you’re always the one that has to reach out, or unsure of what to say. Call someone anyway. If only to ask how they are, what’s going on in their life, and to really care and listen to them.
- Volunteer with or for others. For instance, make friends with someone in need at a retirement community. Work at a food bank and help families get the supplies they need to stay afloat. Come check in next week when we talk more about volunteering!
- Say yes more often. When you’re down and sleep is all you can think of, it can be all too easy to come up with reasons for not doing things when you’re invited. The more you say no, the less people ask. So, start saying yes. If you’ve already no’d yourself into a no-ask situation, reach back out and ask when the next lunch date is with your coworkers or peers.
- Get a pet. Specifically one that is soft and cuddly that you feel able to care for. Tell them about your day. They require you be responsible to them, and it can gently encourage you to get up and get out there.
- You need a village. You need people outside of you, your parents, your partner, and your dog. You need friends. You don’t have to see them everyday, but you do need to care, reach out to them, and keep them in your thoughts.
- Not sure where to find your village? Use your internets. The following websites can help: Meetup, Nextdoor, Peanut (for moms), Nearify, We3, and Meet My Dog. Of course, always use your best discretion when using online tools for meeting others.
- Reach out to the people around you. Go to coffee shops and don’t sit on an electronic device. Join a class, book club, or workout group. Check out events in your area where you might find like-minded people. Step out of your comfort zone and be okay with whether or not your attempts are successful. If you’ve attempted, you’ll be successfully taking care of yourself.
- In the relationships you’re already in, check in with them. Ask them how the relationship is going, how they’re doing, and invite them for a regular meetup. Show up, wholeheartedly, and others are more likely to show up for you.
It’s time to get out there. If you see someone at a party or get together who’s struggling to chat, go invite them into conversation. You can be friendly to anyone, and the more you reach out the more likely you are to find those special people who can be friends for the long haul.
You can do this, but you don’t have to do it alone.
See you next week!