How Making and Maintaining Meaningful Connections Enhances Mental Well-being

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Today’s society is frequently dominated by digital interactions and short-lived relationships. But it is very important for us to have at least one meaningful connection in our lives.

Whether it’s a long talk with a friend, receiving a hug from a loved one, or simply enjoying quality time with family, such a connection has a significant impact on our mental well-being.

Here are a few ways that making and maintaining meaningful connections can enhance mental well-being:

1. Reducing loneliness.

Loneliness is related to a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. However, meaningful connections can reduce loneliness. Having individuals with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings helps to build a support system that minimizes the adverse effects of loneliness. Previous research has also found a negative association between social support and loneliness, indicating that when social support increases, loneliness reduces in individuals (Zhang & Dong, 2022).

2. Improves emotional regulation.

Maintaining meaningful connections ensures that you have a safe environment to express your feelings without the fear of being judged. This will also make you feel understood and supported by others, and it further validates your emotional experiences, making it easier for you to regulate them. Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to learn from the personal experiences of others, like how they managed their life challenges. Such guidance will give you helpful tools to manage your emotions in a better way.

3. Increased self-esteem.

Making and maintaining meaningful connections increases your chances of receiving positive feedback and support from others. Whether it is in the form of praise for accomplishments, or for your personality traits, such things help increase your self-esteem. Furthermore, meaningful connections prevent you from making negative social comparisons. This is because you will always have people around you who will encourage and support you rather than look down on you, thus allowing greater room for personal development.

4. Developing a sense of belonging.

Being part of a group doesn’t merely mean being physically there; it also involves feeling welcomed and being accepted on an emotional level. It is only natural for people to develop a sense of belonging when they are given the chance to express their views and feelings. Therefore, making and maintaining meaningful connections will improve your overall life happiness and mental well-being. A study by Skipper and Fay (2023) found that a sense of belonging predicted greater levels of mental wellness and lower levels of stress in 95 psychology and law students at an English institution. This demonstrates how important it is to feel accepted and respected by others to improve mental well-being.

5.     Lowering stress.

As mentioned earlier, meaningful connections provide a safe environment for expressing feelings and getting support during challenging times. This helps in lowering the impact of stress on mental health. Furthermore, associating with individuals who truly understand and see you on an emotional level causes the production of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which increases happiness and counteracts the harmful effects of stress on mental health.

6. Improved life expectancy.

Meaningful connections also promote greater general health and life expectancy. This results in a more rewarding and satisfying life, thus improving mental well-being. It also helps people prevent cognitive impairment and minimise their chances of developing disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Past research has also reported that having connections with others improves mood, lowers blood pressure, and reduces mortality (Martino et al., 2017).

Concluding thoughts…

Making and maintaining meaningful connections is essential for enhancing your mental well-being since it has many advantages, including reducing loneliness, developing a sense of belonging, improving emotional regulation capacities, and lowering levels of stress, among many others. No matter how difficult the circumstances may be, don’t forget to seek out meaningful connections – it is not only good for your mental health, but also for your general well-being to live a satisfying life.