How to Increase Connectedness

~2 minute read

Social support is a key predictor of positive mental health, and who we are surrounded by greatly impacts how we see ourselves and the world around us. As a teenager, learning how you fit into the social fabric at school and sports can be a huge part of discovering your identity. If you notice that you’re surrounded by people but still feel lonely, you might be a bit low on social connectedness. With busy schedules and the prevalence of social media, more and more people are feeling disconnected, so you’re not alone in feeling alone.

Social support: friends, family, teammates, and peers who have your back and are there for you in both good and bad times.

Strong social support leads to:

  • Resilience in uncertain times
  • Positive overall well-being and mental health
  • High performance in school and sports
  • Confidence toward achieving goals and overcoming challenges

Try the following suggestions to nurture your relationships:

Stay in touch

Answer text messages, phone calls, emails, and invitations. Even if it’s to say you’re a bit busy and would like to check in again in a few weeks, being responsive will help foster the relationships in your life.

Dismiss judgment

Try to view your friends and teammates’ success with encouragement rather than jealousy.

Practice active listening

Listen to your friends and teammates’ preferences, hobbies, and values. The more you learn about those around you, the more you’ll be able to both support them and share your interests with them in return.

Appreciate friends and family

Express gratitude for those in your life who support you.

Give back

Support systems go two ways, so try to be available to your friends and family when they need support.

Set reminders & schedule socializing

Busy schedules can make it difficult to stay in touch with friends and family. If you find yourself having a tough time consistently communicating with the people in your life, try setting a reminder on your phone to reach out to a friend or family member each day or every few days.

You might also feel like you’re so busy that you don’t have any time to meet up with people in your life, or maybe you tend to push off or cancel plans because you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed. Try setting a time each week or every other week to catch up with a friend, teammate, or family member outside of school or practice. It can be something as simple as having lunch or dinner, going on a walk, or even getting chores done together. If you and your parents both have busy schedules, finding a time to sit down and check in once a week can also be a great way to feel more connected with your family.

Navigating the social scene can feel overwhelming and intimidating, especially when you’re still figuring out who you are and who you want to hang out with. Remember that building your social support network is meant to help you feel more relaxed and connected, so if you find yourself spending time with people who make you feel stressed or sad, then it might be worth reevaluating your relationship with them. Even though it might take a little while to find the people who you enjoy spending time with, it’s worth the time and effort. 

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