Human beings are built for connection; we’re pack animals. Some of us find it easier than others to initiate or maintain connections and some of us need more than others, but we all benefit from meaningful connections with others.

How do you get connected? Do you actively seek it or does it happen by chance? Are you getting enough of the right types of connections?

And boy, hasn’t the whole pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions changed our ability to connect?

Loneliness has become part of our lives for many of us. Emotionally and physically, we’ve been cut off from not only our families and loved ones, but our colleagues and communities. Now as we “come out to play” in the world with our masks and hand sanitisers, we can still feel lonely. It can be a fleeting sensation or an overwhelming constant companion.

We might feel embarrassed, stuck or frightened, especially if we’ve been burned by past relationships, difficult bosses or having had our trust or values disrespected. We might experience changes to our sleep or eating habits, a greater reliance on negative practices (like doom scrolling, alcohol or comfort shopping) or a sense of disappointment when we are with others and don’t feel heard or seen.

The impacts of loneliness are not just in the present the moment. Medical research suggests longer-term impacts on our cardiovascular, cognitive and mental health, as well as reducing our immune system’s effectiveness.

Small group of men and women enjoying a lively conversation in an informal workplace setting

What can we do to improve our connectedness?

First connect with yourself. 

Start with your Lover Powertype: shower yourself with self- care, love and compassion. Meet your needs as best you can: focus on the basics: hydration, eating fresh foods, sleep and movement plus any radical replenishers that work to boost your wellbeing.

Then activate your Sorceress Powertype: practice daily connection: a mediation, a piece of breathwork, time out in nature, a beautiful piece of music or art. Use your morning pages and gratitude practice to be thankful for the good stuff and extend an invite to Source for “this please and more”. Do something creative – cook a new dish, sketch the view, or try something crafty – to express yourself.

A dinner table with a feast spread out and diners toasting as they chink their glasses together

Connecting with others could be a mixture of old and new people and active or passive experiences. 

Be intentional with your existing relationships: plan time together, trip or visits away from home, beloved activities together – allow the anticipation to awaken your excitement and joy. 

Try new options to find the people who lift you up. Eventbrite and meetup are good places to start as are professional networks or associations. Why not pick up an old hobby? A netball team? A choir? Volunteering with a local cause or community group you feel drawn to.

Why not consider passive experiences? Times when you can be with others but not necessarily interact. Watch a show or film and laugh or cry with the audience. View an exhibition and note how others are drawn to the same piece as you. Hike a path or walk through a garden and smile at those you pass. Attend a public service. Notice how connected you feel with limited or no direct interaction.

You may want to apply some logic by mapping out your connections in the key needs areas and spot those who lift you and help you feel seen and heard, those who dismiss, minimise or devalue you and where you have gaps. How is the balance across the areas you’d like to get connected? Too many or too few? Where do you want to invest more time and energy to maximise your sense of belonging.

Again, apply your own scrutiny to the names that come up – it is ok to be grateful for friendships or acquaintances that have served their purpose and let them go. By valuing your own self-worth, you create the boundaries for the right people to come along and crete your support safety net and not just for the tough times, but also to celebrate and enjoy the good times with.

Women seated in rows at a conference or networking event all facing away from the observer

What one small doable step (or steps) can you take to create, reinforce or sustain your support safety net over the next week?