How to control your stress levels: connect to people

In October I promised to write some posts on what I belief are ingredients to control our stress levels.  First of all I believe we need to learn to make more choices.  Almost as importantly,  we need to learn to embrace imperfectionism. When confronted with stress, we need to re-energise by planning activities that re-energise us

In the last year I've also been thinking about the importance to connect to people.  Real connections, real conversations that are honest and authentic.

We all need someone that knows us, to whom we can in all honesty say "it's not going so well" at this moment, someone who listens.  And even if things go well, I guess we can build up our resilience by having strong connections with people. 

Since we must all make choices and all our time is limited and much in demand for so many activities, sometimes it is hard to maintain our friendships. I know my friendships have suffered from motherhood but also for my need of peace and quiet regularly. But I'm trying to maintain my friendships a little better lately now that I am out of the baby phase. I probably still suck in being a very good friend but it's my working point. 

With my previous jobs, I've travelled a lot and spent a lot of time in hotels, often with other colleagues. Spending many evenings in restaurants etc, created friendships that I thought would last. But with each job change I've learned that these contacts evaporated very quickly much to my disappointment.  With my current employer I told myself there were no true friendships among collagues...not that you can't have pleasant conversations etc but I didn't expect anything lasting.  Until I read an article this Spring about the normal evolution from friendships in the different phases of our lives...that it is normal and ok that friendships come but also go and that it was fine and purposefull for the time there were there. It made me rethink things. At the same time I was on a training where building our networks  and building trust was also a topic.  So last year I tried to build stronger relationships, build more trust by investing in the connections at my work.  For the last months I've taken out every so many weeks a colleague for a lunch outside the office where we don't talk work and it's fun. 

The last year has been tough but I've also been very open about that to anyone who cared to listen. I've cried with friends, I've cried at work, I've said that I had a hard time etc and my experience was that people are empathic, caring and listening.  And it feels good to express yourself and talk in good times but definitely also in difficult times. 

When I talk about "connect" to people, I'm not just talking about collecting as much social contacts as possible.  There's been good documentaries on tv lately on loneliness and S
amaja wrote about recognizing the feeling of being eenzaam sometimes, despite many social contacts.  I guess in the times of social media, we stay in touch with so many more people more frequently than in pre-digital times. We might have the illusion to know what's going on, that we don't ask anymore how we are really doing.  Maybe we don't ask enough and listen enough to the stories that are behind the posts or that do not appear etc.    And that needs trust.  And to build trust we also need to offer trust and a listening ear to others.  Having a few good friends (we don't need many) , probably means we first of all need to be a good friend. 

I think I've lost the structure in my post a little (ha, that's not the first time) but my point is: we all need true connections with true conversations. We need to give and receive empathy.   Let that be our new year's resolution. 


Leen said…
Awel dat mis ik wel in mijn leven momenteel. Eén van mijn beste vriendinnen heb ik sinds vorige zomer niet meer gezien; ze zegt afspraken af omdat ze moe is of whatever het excuus ook is, en met haar kon ik hele goede gesprekken hebben. Maar echt hele goede. (Niet altijd, want even vaak kon ze energie wegzuigen als geen ander... Het was een beetje dubbel.) Ook andere vriendschappen staan op een laag pitje, maar het is ook zo'n vreemde, hectische herfst geweest... Jouw post doet me beseffen dat ik (eens ik terug wat meer energie heb) wat meer effort ga moeten steken in mijn vriendschappen als ik niet wil dat ze (nog verder) uitdoven...
Goofball said…
@Leen: het is bij mij ook dubbel hoor. 'k merk dat ik ook mijn agenda minder vol wil proppen en mijn vriendschappen dateren vaak nog van toen ik aan andere kant land woonde en dat maakt het lastig om af te spreken. Het gebeurt ook super weinig, vooral omdat ook mijn vriendinnen door gezondheidsproblemen in het verleden opletten met hun energie en dus ook niet teveel in hun agenda plaatsen. Dat maakt afspreken quasi onmogelijk.

Maar ik probeer het wel maar anderzijds probeer ik gewoon online echte gesprekken te hebben. Die verder kunnen gaan dan "hoi, hoe is't er nog mee". Om me zelf kwetsbaar en eerlijk in gesprekken te tonen, wat meestal dan de weg opent voor anderen dat ook te zijn.
Le petit requin said…
Mooi berichtje en oh, zo waar! Ik heb het altijd al moeilijk gehad met vriendschappen, maar het is pas door onze verhuis naar Zwitserland dat ik beseft heb, hoeveel nood ik daar wel degelijk aan heb. Ik had die eerste periode enkel mijn vriend als "contact" vlakbij (daarnaast gelukkig ook wel via skype met familie in België) en dat was achteraf bekeken noch gezond voor mij, noch voor onze relatie (hij had meteen werk en dus al sneller contact met anderen). Heel blij dat dat ondertussen veranderd is.

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