Pillars To Mental Health: Socialization
The single greatest predictor to suicide and self-injury is social isolation. We are social beings. We live in communities for physical safety. We generally seek companionship and emotional support from others. We do not do well when we are alone and isolated for long periods of time, regardless of if you are an introvert or extrovert. Think about a trip you’ve taken with a family member or a friend. It should provoke memories of jokes, laughs, and experiences. You no doubt felt connected and understood. But socialization can be so hard when you are fighting a personal war.
So how do you factor in socializing when you spend half your week sitting in traffic, studying for exams, encouraging your kids to do their homework, and/or catching up on work emails? Socialization becomes the last thing you have time for. A level mind is one that is more focused and more efficient because it includes socialization.
Set up that fancy Bluetooth to give keep yourself hands free and call an aunt, cousin, or nephew you haven’t spoken to in a few months while you’re driving home.
Ask a friend to meet you for coffee, tea, or juice before you both head to work or an hour on the weekend.
Set up a play date, a game night, or a romantic dinner.
Email or send a post card to someone you haven’t heard from in a long time.
Face time or video chat your high school bestie after all the chores are done and show them your room or house.
If you’re new to the area or struggling to find friends, sign up at My Social Calendar or Meet Up and pick a group with similar interests. I’m pretty sure those people are interested in meeting you otherwise they wouldn’t have posted their group online.
Sign up for a cooking class, golf lessons, or a bowling league. If it’s scheduled, you are more likely to make time for it.
However, when you’re fighting an emotional war, socialization can feel like climbing a mountain. So there are other ways to not feel so alone.
Listen to music: Music can make you feel connected to society as you listen to the lyrics and feel the artist’s struggles.
Watch a movie or TV show: Not only are the characters struggling with similar issues to yours, but they are seeking ways to connect with others. I can’t think of a single movie or TV show that doesn’t include multiple characters. Even Cast Away (not a fan of this one) is all about a man’s way back to society in which he seeks companionship from a volleyball.
Go to a local coffee shop or Starbucks and take a book with you or your sketchpad. Just being around others can be comforting even if you aren’t talking to anyone.
Keep in mind that social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are not real ways to connect with others. People generally post positive experiences and photos. Our society has a tendency of shaming those who are in emotional pain and social medias are not an accurate reflection of a person’s life. It is also extremely impersonal. If you want to know how someone is doing, then call them! Better yet, get them face-to-face. The more time you spend connecting with people, the more opportunity you will have to find a person you can trust and maybe you will feel like sharing what is bothering you. At the very least, you may not feel so alone for a few minutes. This will ease your stress and set you on a path to a more level mind.