We humans evolved to be social critters. And perhaps that is never more important than when we’re confronted with challenges in our lives.
Unfortunately, one of the responses people often have to feeling stressed and anxious is isolating, withdrawing into their cave and shutting out the world.
And from a stress management perspective, that is precisely the wrong approach.
Isolation robs you of the benefits of the support of others, for starters. But not feeling connected to others has also been shown to contribute to depression, anxiety, feeling less energy, a greater frequency of illnesses like colds and flues, and lower happiness and overall satisfaction with life.
As you practice your everyday activism, and as you respond to the news about what’s going on in the world, don’t isolate! Reach out to people for support, and reach out to support others. Get involved in a community of like-minded people (but be careful that it’s not just an anger echo chamber).
Get intentional about your connections
Take a look at your life and start thinking about the connections and support in your life. It can be helpful to think about it from several different perspectives.
Having somebody who can offer emotional support when you’re feeling stressed or fearful can play a big role in navigating challenging circumstances.
This is about having people in your life you can have fun with. Laughing and playing in all its forms can have a significantly positive impact on our stress levels. Doing things that are fun, especially together with other people, can lighten the heaviness of tough times.
Connecting around something greater than yourself, whether with individuals or in community, can both create a deeper sense of meaning and put your own challenges into perspective. The more solid your spiritual foundation, the more solid the ground you have to stand on and the less potential life’s events have to buffet you around.
Health & well-being
Maintaining your health and well-being pays off when it comes to managing stress. Bringing another person (or people) into the picture – for example, a workout partner, or an accountability partner as you develop new habits – can give structure and support to your health and well being efforts.
Finally, it can be helpful to have some kind of mentor to guide you through the uncertainties in your life. There’s no need to limit yourself to just one mentor. You might seek out mentors across a broad range of areas, like work (and even different aspects of work, like growth and advancement, or how to deal with office politics), activism, life meaning, relationships, spirituality, etc.
Take stock and reach out
In each of those categories, start by taking stock of the people in your life who play those roles. Then start making a list of people who could play any of those roles and reach out.
It’s a collective effort. The only way we can do this is together.