The Importance of Connection through Meaningful Relationships
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From a young age, we are taught that we should not talk to strangers, but sometimes strangers become our most meaningful relationships. When one thinks of a relationship, we think of partners or significant others, but really it can be as simple as landlord-renter, boss-employee, mother-son and other friendships. Relationships are connections between two or more people that involve emotional or physical intimacy, whether it is with family, friends, romantic or professional partnerships.
How do we determine relationships that are meaningful? Meaningful relationships are those that are deemed significant and include mutual respect, trust, interest, positive regard and making the other person feel valued. The key to making these relationships grow involves building on elements of honesty and finding commonalities to help create that lasting foundation. It is important to build on these relationships that are significant to you because they will lower depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as lessen any sense of loneliness in your life.
Relationships create a sense of belonging and purpose through deeper connection. Some of the benefits of lasting relationships are the feelings of being seen and valued, improving mood and sense of self-worth, feeling expression, building support, and the release of chemicals in your brain such as dopamine and endorphins. Unfortunately, people get caught up with the business of their own lives, and it might be harder to maintain these relationships in person. Another way to help build upon your relationships and strengthen your communication is through virtual platforms, active listening and reaching out to your friends.
Oftentimes people forget some of the ways they can strengthen their relationships, but here are some simple practices to utilize in your daily life to offer further support to you and your relationships:
- Reach out. Sometimes we get lost in our own worlds and get upset when we notice someone hasn’t talked to us in a bit, but try to keep in mind that they might be going through something too. Take the first step and reach out to them.
- Connect virtually. When life happens, technology can be a great tool to stay connected through virtual platforms like FaceTime, Zoom, Skype and even group text messages! The benefit to technology is frequent, casual connection.
- Respect boundaries. There are limits to what one person is capable of providing to us. Try to understand that some people need space for themselves if they are struggling, and they need time for their life such as sleep, work and family.
- Active listening. Take the time to really be present in your relationships. Show respect and take an interest in them. Notice what they are sharing or what they are going through. Ask them questions, and make an effort to be a support person for them.
At the end of the day, consider who might be there for you to offer you support in times of need. You’re never alone, and remember that everyone has something to offer. If you find yourself struggling to connect with other people, it might be time to talk to a mental health professional. They can offer help to find the people who support you in your life.
Amanda Mullins is a Manager of Adult and Family Services at Centerstone, a nonprofit health system specializing in mental health and substance use disorder services.