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Workplace Guidance

How friends can improve our mental health and wellbeing

Fostering meaningful connections can enrich our lives

Hannah Clemens

Jul 25th, 2023

“When the world is so complicated, the simple gift of friendship is within all of our hands.” — Maria Shriver

In today's fast-paced world, it has become increasingly important to maintain connections with others for the sake of our mental health and wellbeing. These connections help keep us resilient and often act as a lifeline when we aren't feeling at our best.

The 30th July is International Day of Friendship. In this blog we'll explore how social relationships, such as friendships, can help us cultivate lives filled with more happiness and improve our well-being.

The impact of social isolation & the role of technology

It can feel like there are endless opportunities for connection with the number of online opportunities available at our finger tips. However, it's important to acknowledge that many individuals still experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. Isolation and loneliness are the opposite of social connection. Prolonged periods of social isolation can have a significant impact on our mental health, leading to:

  • increased stress
  • anxiety
  • depression

While technology has revolutionised the way we connect with others (for ideas on connecting remotely read our top ideas here) it is crucial to find a balance between digital interactions and face-to-face connections. While digital platforms and social media offer accessible tools and resources for enhancing our social relationships, it is equally, if not more important, to nurture offline connections and fully engage in those personal interactions to deepen the quality of our connections. By being fully present in our offline interactions, we can create meaningful and lasting bonds that contribute to our overall well-being.

The benefits of strong social relationships

We all need friends that we can count on during both the good and tough times.

Engaging in activities that promote social connection, such as joining clubs or interest groups, participating in team sports, or attending community events, can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional health. Research consistently demonstrates the positive influence of strong social relationships on mental health and wellbeing. For example, meaningful connections:

  • provide emotional support
  • reduce stress levels
  • enhance overall life satisfaction

With busy lives. it can often be difficult to find time to prioritise our social connections, our most popular tool for helping to overcome this challenge is our 'Why Not?' tool. 

Building Connections in the Workplace

Studies have found building and nurturing connections at work can pave the way for a happier, more vibrant working environment and boost our mental health too. In practice, it's been found that uplifting social relationships at work play a key role in increasing job contentment and reducing stress levels and lower levels of fatigue and burn out.

So, what can employers do?

  1. Foster social (informal) interactions: Encourage opportunities for employees to interact socially. This can include team-building activities, social events, or even designated spaces where employees can gather and socialise. Also, encouraging open communication channels and providing spaces for informal interactions can strengthen relationships.
  2. Encourage shared goals, values & collaboration: When employees share common goals and values, they are more likely to connect and work together effectively. Organisations can promote this by clearly communicating their mission, vision, and values, and aligning them with individual and team objectives. Also, give employees the opportunities to work together on projects that reflect these goals and values!
  3. Encourage diversity and inclusion: Embrace diversity and create an inclusive work environment where all employees feel valued and respected. Embracing diverse perspectives can foster innovation and strengthen relationships among employees.
  4. Support work-life balance: Promote work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements and policies that support employees' personal lives. When employees feel supported in balancing their work and personal commitments, they are more likely to form positive connections with their colleagues.

Let's celebrate International Day of Friendship

For International Day of Friendship why not;

  • reach out to a friend or colleague to boost your feelings of social connection.
  • take a look at our our top ideas for connecting remotely.
  • understand why you might be making the most of your opportunities for connection and make a plan for building them with our Why Not?' tool.

Follow us on LinkedIn and let us know what you'll be doing to boost your social connections to improve your mental health and wellbeing. 

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