Allison Rapp

The Importance of Being Connected

We know that social connections are beneficial to health--but if you're used to working quietly with one person at a time you might have to make an intentional effort to create and maintain them.

Yesterday when I went out to run errands, I ran into a neighbor who was coming home.

We live on a narrow gravel road and we haven’t figured out to get 2 cars to occupy the same space at the same time, so whenever neighbors meet like that, we have to figure out how to get past each other without sliding into the ditch that keeps the road from flooding in the rainy season.

My neighbor wasn’t in a hurry, and neither was I, so we maneuvered our cars to slide by one another, then stopped, rolled down our windows and then spent the next 10 minutes catching up on our news.

Connections like that make my day because I spend too much working alone or with one other person. As I went about my errands, I was thinking about how we all seem too spend too much time in isolation — in front of all kinds of screens, or working remotely, or — as practitioners do — in a quiet bubble with a client who wants something from you.

Connection is a fundamental human need

It’s vital to health and well-being — in fact, lack of social connection is a greater health risk than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure! On the other hand, strong social connections strengthen the immune system, decrease the likelihood of depression, increase self-esteem and make it likely we’ll live longer. 

And being connected feels good.

So this year, one of my “words to live by” is girlfriends. I started with regular phone dates to stay connected with a few long-time besties from different “parts” of my life. But once I really began paying attention, I realized that I need face time, too — in-person connection with real human beings who don’t expect me to produce a miracle every time I’m with them.

That’s easier said than done, though.

For me, it requires effort to make a commitment, get out of the house, and create and maintain those connections, even when I realize that they’re vital to my health.

It took time, creative thinking and willingness to get out of my comfort zone — and I’m happy to report that I’ve now got 3 very different groups of people I’m spending time with and getting to know while doing something I find meaningful. Each is only a few people, so it’s not overwhelming and because the focus of each is completely different, I’m able to energize myself in a number of ways that weren’t open to me a couple of months ago.

Wonder whether you’re “connected enough”?

Ask yourself:

  • How often are you with others? (Check your calendar to find out if your memory is accurate!)
  • What do you do to meet new people?
  • How do you define “fun” and where do you go to have it?
  • How much time do you have available to expand your local connections?

Community connections are really important and it’s relatively easy to create them if you follow your interests. Nextdoor and Meetups are two places you might begin. If you’re adventurous, you could start a Meetup group!

Increasing your connections within your community isn’t just good for your health — it’s also good for your business because when you work with people in person, most of your clients are local. That means that when more folks know you, it’s easier to make a living.

Just make sure you get time with others where your primary focus is doing something you enjoy, rather on finding new clients.

Show up as the best example on the planet of the work that only you can do, and you’ll find that people will want to know more!


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