One of the toughest aspects of dealing with depression and anxiety is that they often lead you away from the one thing that can really help you: social support. While both conditions make you feel like being alone, reaching out to others can actually reduce the stress that they bring.
Depression and anxiety are isolating. And being isolated has been proven to cause stress. Human beings need to make and keep connections to others in order to thrive. Here are six ways to find and strengthen positive connections:
- Seek out non-toxic people. Who does it make you feel good to be with? Make a list of family members or friends who are positive, supportive, and fun or helpful to be around.
- Rekindle old connections. Reach out to certain people who are important to you, such as parents, a close friend or adult child who lives far away, or an aging relative who lives alone.
- Make a commitment. Commit to calling, emailing or meeting up with any or all of the above people on a schedule that’s reasonable for you. Make at least one emotional connection a day, whether it’s through a phone call, text message, Skype or Facebook.
- Make these connections meaningful. Whether you are talking or writing, share what’s on your mind when you contact people. Don’t just whine or complain, though. Talk about your concerns or problems, but keep it constructive: ask for advice, a fresh perspective, a sympathetic ear, or just a good laugh.
- Make it a two-way street. These conversations shouldn’t be all about you. While you need to talk, you also need to listen. Ask the other person about their day, or follow up on the topic of a previous conversation. Not only are you building a relationship by showing interest in someone else’s life, but listening to other people’s concerns might shed a new light on your own challenges.
- Get out of the house. While talking, emailing and Facebooking can be nice, you need face-to-face interactions, too. Make plans to do something fun with friends or relatives, an activity that hopefully everyone involved will enjoy. Giving yourself something to look forward to will boost your spirits, give you energy and make you more productive.
If you feel too anxious or timid about social interaction, you may want to consider talking to a therapist or counselor to build up your confidence a little. It’s for your health! A lack of social interaction has the same impact on your lifespan as smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic, and it’s twice as harmful as being obese.
If you feel you need a little extra help in dealing with depression, anxiety or other social stresses, please reach out to Horizon Health Services at (716) 831-1800. We’re here to help whenever you need us.