Human beings are social animals, and making links with other people is vital to mental health. This means we should all try to make time to maintain and develop our relationships with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them to support and enrich you.

Connect - the evidence

Evidence highlights the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships with family and friends  as a buffer against mental ill health.  Strong social networks help to promote a sense of belonging and well-being.  Life goals associated with a commitment to family, friends and social involvement are seen to promote life satisfaction.  In contrast, goals associated with career or material gain make life satisfaction harder to achieve.

Gratitude visit

Gratitude is one way of recognising something good in your life.  Building on this, you could select one important person that has made a positive difference to your life. It should be someone you have never fully expressed your gratitude to.  Write a testimonial about one page long, including some concrete events and reasons why this person is important to you.  Visit them and read your testimonial out loud. Once you have finished,  let the other person react unhurriedly.

Good news

Research suggests that responding positively when partners have good news is as important as supporting them when bad things happen.  It can help you to build better relationships with people by learning how to react positively to good news - generally by congratulating and praising them. Do not overdo the positive feedback as this might make them feel uncomfortable.  Instead you might congratulate them and show interest by asking questions about their news.

You can find out more in this short film.


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