It’s summertime! An excellent time for a BBQ, pool party, outdoor music and tons of other fun social events! So, let’s use the summer momentum to intentionally CONNECT.
Think of the people in our lives like tree rings. The largest circle is everyone we connect with that we have a very surface interaction with- crossing guards you see every day, other parents at pickup, dude who gets you a donut etc. Then with each smaller circle you probably have fewer people in it, but more emotional connection (current friends, old high school buddies, coworkers, family). The smallest circle in the middle is your “ride or die” people, the ones who would help you bury a body. (Which, of course, I don’t condone. Don’t do that. Although it is nice to know who would have your back should that situation arise!)
Select a few people from your circles whom you would like to move to a smaller circle and make goals around how you would like to try to strengthen that relationship.
Why is Connection Important?
Connection is uber important! This might be easy for the people who travel a ton to see family and friends over the summer, but you can also use routine and casual encounters with strangers as an opportunity to connect. To my fellow introverts who are rolling their eyes at this suggestion, keep in mind that social connection can not only be fun and a stress reliever, but it can also decrease health problems.
After all, we are in a connection starved time, where people are more and more isolated, and loneliness is one of the top red flags for depression, dementia, high blood pressure and heart disease. Getting coffee with someone or signing up for a mahjong class is sounding better and better, huh?!
What Should I do to Connect?
Ask someone out- Initiate a connection! (A consensual connection, if they aren’t into you then let it go, don’t be weird). I’m not just talking about a romantic connection, although sure, maybe this is a good time to try online dating again. But what about friend dating? (Is that a thing? Someone should invent one of those speed dating gatherings but to find a new adult friend!
“Which character from Yellowjackets were you in high school? You were a Jackie? I was a Shauna, and that didn't work out so well for them. Obviously, we are not destined to be friends, I wish you well”. Then the two minutes are up and onto the next person! But I digress).
The person you have been chatting with in your gym class, the coworker whom you always joke with, the cool mom at pick up… Ask them for coffee, a play date, to go on a hike, to get dinner, to watch reality tv with you, whatever your thing is.
Go old school- Drive to a bank to cash a check from a teller, pick out your groceries yourself instead of using online ordering, talk to someone in line with you. Knock on your neighbor’s door instead of leaving a note on Neighborhood apps, walk down the hall to talk to a coworker instead of sending an email, call a friend to chat instead of just sending memes. You know that grandpa figure who goes into every business, knows people by name, and loves talking to anyone? Channel that energy!
Car rides- Car rides are an underrated connection time. Not only is it a secured (i.e trapped) environment with no where to go but there is also limited distractions (as long as all the headphones are down). Added bonus, people are not staring into each other’s eyes but instead are next to each other looking the same direction. Eye staring can be intimidating or cause defensiveness in some so this is a great technique to use with people who genuinely have a hard time talking and listening.
Kid favorite activities- Do what your kid loves to do, for, like, 15 minutes. Get down on the floor and play cars, listen to them describe in depth the drama in their friend group, check out their favorite music/influencer/tik tok, play that video game. This is not the time to teach them what you love to do, and it’s okay if it bores you out of your mind. You are an adult; you don’t have to be fascinated by these things. But it sends a clear message to your kid that you are interested in them as a person and what is important to them is important to you (shout out to my mom who read multiple Babysitter’s Club books when I was a kid who collected the whole series!)
Connect with Self:
Embodiment- My layperson’s definition of embodiment is to “get back in your body”. (Look up other definitions for better insight!) I have lost track of the number of clients who have said to me that they don’t know what their body is feeling, they don’t understand physical cues (tired, hungry, anxious etc.) and they just don’t feel good (headaches, stomach problems, eating disorders, panic attacks etc).
We are too detached from our bodies. Our bodies are not a tool, we are in a relationship with our body. We need to work to get to know each other and understand each other. In order to do that we need to feel our body. Yoga, dance, singing, massage, stretching, progressive muscle relaxation etc. are all self care tools to get out of our busy and stressed-out minds and back into a relationship with our body.
Medical/health issues- Part of knowing what is up with our body is acknowledging when we don’t feel “right”. Sometimes this is scary, sometimes we minimize what is wrong, sometimes we seek out medical support and don’t get concrete answers. However, as you practice embodiment and understand your body more, trust yourself to know what feels right and what feels off in your body.
(If you are part of the population that has a higher rate in dismissal by medical providers- female, BIPOC, young, overweight etc. please keep advocating for yourself, and if you need help because it is exhausting fighting against healthcare structures enlist someone who is on your team (family member, social worker, medical provider your trust etc.) to help you.
Get medical care. Take sick time from work. Eat healthy foods. Rest. Pursue holistic health treatments- acupuncture, massage, reiki etc. You deserve to feel better.
Put some intention into strengthening your connections, and enjoy your summer!
Podcast resources on social connection and friendships: