Emotional Health

A New Year’s Resolution Worth Keeping

People are less likely to have work colleagues, too, as remote work and the gig economy have both exploded. Yet social connections at work are considered one of the prime rewards of being employed. Working from home may be convenient, but it can be lonely. Frequently changing jobs or working part-time makes it hard to maintain friendships made in the workplace.

We should all be asking ourselves what we could do to strengthen our feeling of connection to others. If you have close friends that you now relate to more through email and text rather than phone calls, letters, and actual meetings, try to reverse that trend. You may feel like you are in close touch, but psychologists think differently. In fact, they themselves are less likely to see patients in person, a development that would have Freud grumbling and stroking his beard.

Another goal should be to reinforce ties to your community. Go to PTA meetings, potluck and block parties, or local action committee meetings. If you don’t belong to a book club, start one. Or take an art class (or other craft activity) and make sure to talk to fellow students. Even exercise has been proven to be more rewarding when pursued with friends.

As a corollary to this, encourage your family members to do the same. Help when you can to ensure your children and your partner strengthen friendships. If they are inclined to stay home with their TVs, tablets, phones, and computers, insist that some time each weekend to devoted to social interaction, both within and outside of the family.

And finally, and most important perhaps, is reach out to others who may seem isolated. Is there a co-worker who always eats lunch alone? Try to include him/or when the group goes out. Is there a new parent in your child’s class? Be the first to reach out to that person and you may have made an instant friend.

Volunteer work is an excellent way to stay connected to your community. Not only will it give you the opportunity for more social interaction, it has the added benefit of making both you and the recipient feel uplifted.

While we all have many things we’d like to change about ourselves, connecting more may be the healthiest change you can make this year. And the investment you make in taking time to know others will pay off not just this year, but possibly for many years to come.


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