Connect to Thrive: Combatting Loneliness

Connect to thrive, say psychologists

Central Queenslanders are being encouraged to push themselves out of their social comfort zone in order to combat rising rates of loneliness that are affecting their health and wellbeing, this Psychology Week (11-17 November 2018).

“APS research shows that too many Australians are lonely and lacking in social confidence,” said APS psychologists.

Loneliness is a growing concern globally, especially as it is shown to have a huge impact on people’s mental and physical health. In response the Australian Psychological Society is running a campaign promoting the Power of Human connection, urging people to Connect to Thrive.

“APS research shows that a factor influencing loneliness is a person’s level of social confidence, with many Australians feeling uncomfortable in a range of social situations,” says APS psychologist Judy Travis.

“There are many simple strategies you can employ to improve your social interactions.”

The Australian Psychological Society has also released a set of tips to help people to thrive socially.

Tips to Connect and Thrive

Think positive

Anxiety about social situations can make us overthink our interactions. Don’t dwell on worries about how you are perceived – shift your focus to the other person or the topic of conversation.

Forget comparison

Don’t be concerned if others appear to have more or better friends than you. Quality and enjoyment matter more than quantity. Savour the moments of connection, wherever you can find them.

 Expect change

Circumstances can leave us vulnerable to a sense of isolation. Relationships shift over time and we may lose touch with friends who were once important. Accepting change as normal can help you adjust. Listen well

Practice listening. Ask questions and really listen to the answers, rather than just waiting for a turn to talk. Respond warmly to people’s experiences through your posture, facial expressions and words.

Help

Helping someone gives a feel-good rush. Create a bond with someone by offering help, or asking for it. Something as little as assistance with a bag or holding a lift can help people feel seen and cared for.

Join in

Embrace opportunities to join, volunteer or participate.   This connects you to other people, unites you in a shared activity, and provides an easy way to get to know people better.

Reconnect

Reach out to friends from your past. Many people welcome such efforts and the feeling that you care. If you plan a catchup, why not revisit a place or experience where you shared happy memories?

Manage stress

Everybody has some social situations they dread. Practice simple stress management techniques, such as breathing deeply and slowly, to help keep your stress in check through awkward moments. If you feel like you need support to build better connections skills, a psychologist can help.

For more information about the campaign, downloadable resources or to find a psychologist, visit www.psychweek.org.au.

This article was provided by the Australian Psychological Society.

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