Staying connected to friends, whānau, school, work, nature and the world around you is critical to your wellbeing.
Face to face connections are best, but even picking up the phone or making a video call can help. When was the last time you talked to family outside your city?
Traditionally, for Māori and Pasifika cultures, connecting through relationships are all part of good health and wellbeing – relationships are sacred, so all the more reason to do what our ancestors did, and connect with people.
Talk to someone – a problem shared is a problem halved.
We need to talk if we’re feeling stressed to get stuff out of your head, and to let others know what you’re going through. Talking helps us process thoughts and feelings and reach out for help when we need it.
There are all sorts of people in your community that you could choose from, like a trusted mate, family member, school teacher, church leader, or sports coach.
There’s also professional support you can talk to, like:
- If you’re at school or uni, you can access student counselling.
- Your GP or family doctor can help recommend an approach for you and might also suggest medications.
- Try free counselling support online, by text or on the phone.
Talking with a trusted mate or support person can help you feel more understood, accepted, and they can help get you more support if needed.
Random tips for talking:
- If you feel like talking to family you live with, and you don’t know where to start, sometimes just sitting in the dining room or living room, will invite people to talk with you. Staying in your room won’t start a conversation.
- When you’re angry, venting and letting it all out can help relieve stress. However you will want to make sure you have the right person to vent to. You should also start off by letting the other person know that you need to vent, because when we’re angry, we often say unreasonable things. After venting, it’s good to start thinking positively and about solutions rather than the problem. Try the Aunty Dee app for this.
How to listen
Listening to others is also really important for connecting because it gives us another perspective on things, and it also shows others that we are there for them when they need to talk.
Listening can be harder than it seems though, and we need to practise active listening.
Tips for Active Listening:
- Have an open mind so that the person feels like you are not judging them.
- Listen carefully to what is being said, paying attention to body language and the way that the person raises or lowers their voice to get their point across.
- Maintain eye contact. This can be very hard and scary if you are not used to it, but people appreciate it.
- Affirm what is being said by nodding when you agree and you could say things like “I see”, “oh wow” etc… but don’t interrupt.
- Try not to think of your response at all. This tends to make people stop listening and instead just wait for their turn to speak.
If talking is not your thing, just connecting with people or nature can work wonders for your wellbeing – and may lead to opening up conversations anyway! Here’s some ideas for building connections:
- Learn about how you like to connect! Do you like to have lots of friendships where you are happy to put yourself out there and share anything, or do you prefer to have one or two close friendships who are the only people you share certain thoughts with? Knowing this information will help you find the best methods for you to build connections.
- Make a family facebook group where you can all post photos and information to keep you all connected. This is a great way to keep the generations connected, as well as keeping family members who live far away connected.
- Connect with whānau. Make an effort to get involved with family dinners, sports or events that your family are involved with. Be yourself around family, they know you well.
- Go visiting mates or meet them at the beach, café or movies – its good for you to get out of the house, and if you’re not feeling up to it, you can keep the visit short and sweet.
- Connect with nature. Spend time in the great outdoors, in the sun. A change of scenery can help you see things differently. Fresh air and a good dose of Vitamin D can help you get a better night’s sleep. When you’re experiencing nature, it can take you mind off things troubling you in life.
- Join a group – get involved in your local church groups, join a sports team, try a cross-fit session, volunteer – it’s likely you already have friends or whānau doing this, so ask them if you can tag along!
- Organise a cultural night with friends or family where everyone brings a dish from their different cultures. Or put on a street barbie and invite the neighbours.
- Connect with your emotions through listening to your favourite music or learning mindfulness and meditation.