Connection in the 21st century

Author: Lily Smith

 

Romance shmomance.. am I right?!

Whether you’re single, dating, partnered up or somewhere in between, we’re here to talk about the L world… love, luuurve, L O V E. Well more specifically, we’re here to talk about connection in the 21st century, but we’ll get to that.

If you’re on the gram or tiktok, then you’ll know what it’s like to be inundated with content full of engagement rings, trips to Paris and montages of happy couples. Bleugh! It’s intense, we get it, and not always easy on the ol’ mental health.

We’re here to take the pressure off romance and focus a little more on connection. Love, and all the squishy stuff is a by-product of connection, so in our books, first comes connection and second comes love (in all its forms, not just romance!)

The C Word

I’ve been thinking about connection a lot recently, what is it? Is it really that important? How do I find it and with who?

Well, connection is defined as ‘the state of being related to someone or something else’ and research has always told us of the benefits of feeling connected to ourselves and to others. Stanford University recites a study that proves strong social connection even strengthens your immune system and lowers levels of anxiety and depression. So it’s a pretty big deal, eh? Well mindhamok are here to tell you that yes it is, but connection comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and shades, and if you’re somebody that struggles with making friends, maybe someone that doesn’t like dating or wants to build a stronger connection with numero uno (YOURSELF) then we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s start there, with the most important person to connect with, the big chief… YOU!

Connecting with yourself

Do you sometimes look in the mirror and pick apart what you see? Wish you looked cuter from that angle? Do you wish you could walk into a room and take up the space that your friend does? The list goes on for many of us, more of this… less of that. We’re programmed to feel like we’re never enough, and in a culture that strives for more, it’s difficult to pause and take stock of all the great things about us. Connection in the 21st century isn’t always easy! Our internal voice can be so damned critical, which can often leave us feeling very disconnected from the reflection in the mirror. So, how do we build stronger connections with ourselves?

Date night?

On your own? ARE YOU CRAZY? No seriously, time to ourselves can be lovely. And scary, obviously. So, start small, why don’t you take yourself for a walk on a Saturday morning? I know this might sound bizarre, surely being alone is the antithesis of connection, but I’m not saying spend all your time alone, I’m suggesting you treat yourself regularly to show yourself some lovin’ and flip that critical voice on its head. Our own well-being comes first. Whether it’s that Saturday morning walk, a solo trip to the cinema or just a smile at ourselves in the mirror, we get to connect to ourselves whenever we want.

Social connection

Socialising is all relative and how you approach it is completely unique to you. Wherever you are on your life journey; just starting out, at college, on study abroad, a young professional, or middle aged and on your third marriage, mindhamok get it, and each experience is totally different. Some of us love being in big groups, some of us freaking hate it. Some of us are happy to spend the majority of our time alone, and some of us love being surrounded by heaps of people with all the eyes on us. As I said… relative and unique. The mental health foundation tells us that ‘People who are more socially connected to family, friends, or their community are happier, physically healthier’.

So how do you find social connection if you typically struggle?

Baby steps

First things first, take it easy. You don’t need to be the life and the soul of the party to be connecting with people. A smile, a compliment, eye contact, introducing yourself to someone new. These are all small ways to connect with each other, and who knows, that smile at a randomer could lead to a life-changing conversation….

New people

If you are in a new country, city or studying abroad, it can be challenging! New food, language, friends, culture, smells, sounds, fashion, bathrooms, weather. We get it… scary! New cities are full of opportunities to network and make friends as a student. Now, if organised fun is your thing, you could try joining a sports club, or a hobby group, or even a language exchange. There are groups all over the world wide web for every hobby/craft/sport you can imagine. Take a peak and let yourself explore all the different ways you to connect. Check out mindhamok’s blog on meeting new people for inspiration.

Friends

As I said, love comes in all different forms and friendships can sometimes go underappreciated. Take a look around at your friends and remember how lovely it is to be loved and known by others. As Thomas Fuller once said…

“If you have one true friend you have more than your share.”

Put your phone down! (read that again)

Loneliness is on the rise, and it’ll come as no surprise to you that this is partly due to our obsession with our phones. I’m not judging, my screen time is terrifying folks. All I’m saying is, what would it feel like to go for that walk and leave our phone at home? If it’s safe, of course. To really connect with ourselves and the people we’re with and the people we don’t even know yet. Looking up instead of down is not only better for our necks and spines, but also opens us up to potential opportunities for connection!

Romance

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We aren’t shi*ting on relationships, that’s not our style. But we are saying is, love looks different to everybody, and romantic love isn’t the end all and be all. So let’s take the pressure of the L word, and focus on the C word.

And remember, if it’s ever too much, mindhamok are here for you. There’s no shame in reaching out for help. Whether you want to organise counselling while you’re away, speak to somebody from our helpline or perhaps the live chat would be helpful.

So put your mind in a hammock and remember, everything we need from somebody else, we already have within us. Pretty cool, eh?

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