Did anyone have a new year’s resolution to be feel more truly connected in 2019? It might sound a bit abstract compared to say doing your first triathlon but in today’s busy world, it can be easier said than done.
We’re living in an era where we have never been more digitally connected. You can do almost anything at the touch of a button – shop, bank, order a taxi and even get a date! With social networks you can be “friends” with almost anyone you’ve ever met, from a girl you haven’t seen since primary school to a guy you met backpacking 10 years ago. Whatsapp, text, Skype, email and social mean we are always on, constantly contactable and it is very hard to really switch off.
However how connected are we in real-life anymore? It’s been said that most of us are addicted to our phones and check them countless times during the day. This makes it very hard to have a decent conversation without someone taking their phone out of their pocket to glance at it. Our attention spans are now meant to be lower than goldfish as a result of constant stimulation. This means it’s very hard to actively listen to each other without getting distracted. Technology has also meant that many of us suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and the comparison trap when viewing the “filtered” lives of others on social media. It’s been reported that there is now a loneliness epidemic with one in 10 people in Ireland being affected.
It feels like we need to take a step back, bring it back to basics and build some real authentic connections with people rather than lots of superficial and transient interactions. If you identify with any of this, then here are a few of my suggestions:
- Take a social media hiatus: it doesn’t have to be forever. It can be for a day, a week or a month. The purpose is to notice how much time you spend on the different channels and then think about what else you could be doing with that time. If you pooled the minutes or hours together, could you have arranged to meet a friend for coffee and had a good old chinwag and a laugh?
- Deliberately plan out your week so you know when the moments for meaningful connection are. Try not to spend your time chasing your tail running from one thing to the next and say “no” more often. If a friend texts while you’re watching Netflix, don’t get into a Whatsapp conversation frenzy. Press pause and pick up the phone and have an actual conversation. Better still, reduce screen-time and other distractions so you and your partner/family/flat-mate can catch up on the day’s events.
- Meet new people: if you are already up the walls, this may be the last thing you want to do. However, another problem in today’s society is that many of us don’t know our neighbours. It might be a simple smile or “hello” or a 10-minute conversation when you get out of your car, but it’s can be a small step towards feeling like you are part of a community. If you have more free time, there are lots of free ways you can meet others, e.g., the MeetUp app has lots of different groups no matter what your interests are.
- Volunteer: helping others has been known to have a positive impact on our own mental health. Again, this doesn’t have to be a massive commitment. There are plenty of organisations who look for people for a few hours or a day for bag packing.
- Slow down: finally, it’s not just about being connected to others. If you are always rushing from one thing to the next, you might to feel that you are not in touch with yourself. How often do you take time out to think about whether you are heading in the right direction in life and if you are living in line with your values? This doesn’t have to be any sort of long meditation – it can be a short walk or any time out which gives you some time to think.
If any of this sounds familiar and like something you would like coaching on, give me a shout. Elaine x