Keep Connected, by Vanessa King

Annamarie Dillon | August 13, 2015

It gives us great pleasure to share the sixth blog post in the series for rare disease caregivers entitled, "Building Resilience" by Vanessa King.

Human beings are social creatures; we thrive on a sense of belonging and companionship.Research shows being and feeling connected to others is vitally important for our wellbeing and resilience. Both our ‘loose’ connections (to people who we see regularly but aren’t close to) and our ‘tighter’ connections (those nearest and dearest to us) matter.

Our loose connections – mini moments matter
People who know their neighbors (and say hello to) feel safer and happier where they live. Likewise at work or in groups we belong to, being seen, considered and included feels good whereas the opposite doesn’t. So the few seconds it takes to smile and say ‘hello’ or to ask how they are aren’t just nice things to do, these actions make a big difference to our own wellbeing and to others too.

Nurturing our close ties
Our close relationships are the most important for our wellbeing. Yet it is often these that we take most for granted. As busy carers, our attention and energy is mostly focused on the person we are caring for, and it can mean that we have less time and energy for other people who are important to us. So what are some simple and quick ways we can nurture our other close relationships?

A good place to start is bringing to mind what we really love and value about the other person. The best qualities we see in them. Research suggests that if we spend a little time focusing on what’s best about them before we spend time with them, that time is more enjoyable and more impactful all round.

In our very close relationships we can often focus on what others do that irritates or "niggle" us, which means we notice more of that! This can especially be the case if we are tired or anxious. Focusing on the niggles impacts our interactions with the other person and ultimately the quality of the relationship.

So who is someone you know you are going to spend some time with today or tomorrow? Before seeing them, spend a few moments thinking about what’s best about them. Then, see what you notice about how you feel when you are with them.

Listening and responding well
The way we listen and respond to others is also really important for the quality of our close relationships. Not just when others need our support but when they have something good they want to share. We can respond in different ways but not all of these nurture our relationships, in fact some are actually destructive. Check out the guide attached to see how you generally respond to those close to you and try out a way that builds our connections to those that matter most to us.

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