Posts Tagged ‘social connectedness’

In a poll conducted by Forbes Health in 2022, 59% of respondents felt that since the pandemic it has become harder for them to form new adult relationships. Pandemic aside, there are many other life events, such as moving or changing employment, which can leave your social circle slim. If you are feeling the same, there are a few ways that you can work on meeting new people and reestablish existing relationships.

Why can’t we just stay home forever? We are social creatures, and socializing does not just improve our mood, but also our health. The Mayo Clinic shares that having positive friendships can:

  • Help combat feelings of loneliness and depression, which can cause isolation
  • Increase happy feelings and decrease stress
  • Good relationships can be a support system for negative times
  • Can encourage you to make better lifestyle choices
  • Give you a sense of belonging or purpose
  • Can help to lower blood pressure and body mass index.

University of Maryland professor, Marisa Franco, gave an interview in 2022 on why as adults we struggle making new friends.  She states that the organic nature in which we gained friends as a child changes with age. With busier schedules and more strict boundaries, making new friends must be intentional. She reports that we tend to be too hard on ourselves as we age, and it is easier for us to feel unliked by new people despite evidence of the contrary. This is when loneliness can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You might be wondering where or how to start meeting all these awesome potential friends? Psychiatrist Roxanna Namavar shares some tips to keep in mind:

  • Approach new people and activities with positivity, focusing on what feels good.
  • Create your circle of friends around the parts of your life you enjoy.
  • Take some time to research groups that may interest you. This might require you to update your social media skills to groups and community activities you may not have been aware of.
  • Ask questions about your new friend. This will help build a relationship better than just talking about yourself.
  • Is there a casual acquaintance you can get to know better?
  • Do not be afraid to say ‘yes,’ initiate activities, or be vulnerable.

Additionally, older adults may have added anxiety about returning to social gatherings. AARP shares that some people may feel more confident about spending time with others who may be vaccinated. But having those conversations with friends and family may lead to more stress. It is okay to tell other’s that you are not ready to join large gatherings yet. Coming up with alternative activities that would make you more comfortable will help others to know that you still value time with them. Likewise, be patient with others who are not comfortable with your own invitations to gather.

As stated earlier, positive friendships are the key. When working on friendships aim for quality over quantity. Keeping friendships takes time and effort, but they are worth it.

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Star_Spangled_Banner_Flag_on_display_at_the_Smithsonian's_National_Museum_of_History_and_Technology,_around_1964One evening, while walking down the midway at our recent county fair, I stopped when I heard the start of  “The Star Spangled Banner”.  People around me also stopped and stood quietly, some with their hands over their heart.  Another night, when I happened to be in our OSU Extension booth talking with two FFA members, it started to play, and without saying a word we put our hands over our hearts and listened.  The gentleman in in the booth next to me, after realizing what was happening, stood quickly and took his hat off.

As this nightly occurrence of hearing the national anthem continued on throughout the week, I started to realize how much of an impact it was having on me, and what was going through my mind while it played.  The germination of an idea about writing a blog article on the topic started to form, and I decided to ask other fair-goers if they stopped during the playing of our national anthem.  If so, why, and what were they thinking (if anything), while it played?

Everyone I interviewed at the fair that week reported they stopped what they were doing and listened to the national anthem.  Below are some of their responses:

  • One of the Farm Bureau Ambassadors stated she is too young to vote or serve in the military, but this was one thing she could do to show her respect for her country.
  • One lady stated she was thinking about “the United States Daughters of 1812” an organization for descendants of patriots who aided the American cause during the War of 1812.
  • One gentleman stated what many others also shared – that he was thinking about unity, recent events in America, and those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

We celebrate many occasions in this country, such as Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day.  We also celebrate our country/patriotism on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Patriot’s Day (9/11), and Independence Day.  Nationally, we may not be in agreement about whether, or how, we celebrate those holidays, but the main takeaway here is that we have the freedom to choose without censure.

One constant, however, we’ve always pretty much shared is that when we hear “The Star Spangled Banner”, we Americans halt what we are doing and become united.  That response factors in to why there has been so much discord over the last year about respect (or perceived lack of) for the national anthem.

Defence_of_Fort_McHenry_(Broadside_1814)A recent study conducted by faculty at Princeton found that banding together as a nation is often lauded for getting through challenging times, but that both harmony and conflict unify nations’ identities.

“In the United States, a nation of immigrants, we have a much more complex national story to tell,” senior author Susan Fiske, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and Public affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public International Affairs, says.  “Because we are pluralistic, our society requires a balancing act.  We can’t achieve unity through homogeneity, because we aren’t.”  “We can however view multi-ethnic intergroup relations in our unequal society as complicated and sometimes ambivalent.”

The Takeaway
Whether or not you agree with that assessment as it relates to the national anthem, it is important to recognize that this is a complicated issue because not everyone expresses social connectedness in the same way.  However, if you treat everyone with courtesy and respect, the only commitment you will have to make to them is behaving well (which is the Golden Rule).

View these well-known renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner”:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lCmBvYMRs Whitney Houston
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0GFqrCcwes National youth Orchestra of the USA/NY02
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPKp29Luryc Themes & Variations


Photo Resources:
Defence of Fort McHenry, By Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) [Public domain, Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

Written by:  Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County
Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County

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