Building positive relationships and maintaining personal connections
Learn about the importance of staying connected with others and how maintaining meaningful relationships supports your wellbeing
Relationships and personal connections play a key role in supporting our wellbeing, especially when going through difficult periods of our lives.
Speaking or spending time with others can help us feel less stressed, isolated, or lonely. Positive and healthy connections with others and learning how to rely on others for support also makes us much more resilient.
Here are some activities that can help you reflect on the value of your own relationships, identify the people in your life you can connect to and plan ways that you can build personal connections with others.
What is a ‘meaningful’ personal connection?
British red cross research shows that having meaningful connections is important for reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as supporting our own wellbeing and resilience. What makes a connection and a conversation ‘meaningful’ is up to us.
How would you define the word ‘meaningful’ – what makes a conversation or connection meaningful to you? When we talk about meaningful connections, we mean a positive and healthy bond or relationship made between two people that helps us feel fulfilled.
Personal connections can be temporary or long lasting. Having distinct kinds of relationships can help us feel fulfilled but having a meaningful connection with someone we can be open and honest with, can significantly help to tackle loneliness, support our wellbeing, and help us build resilience.
A meaningful connection is formed when people feel seen, heard and known. These connections are positive and reciprocal with both people feeling supported by the other in the relationship.
Building meaningful connections
Building healthy and positive personal connections with people are not always easy. We may feel self-conscious about being honest, we might feel like a burden or find it difficult to trust others. These are normally just our own fears, and not actually how the other person feels about us.
These connections may not be built over night, and sometimes take time, but in the end, the relationships formed have massive benefits to all people involved. Start by thinking about what connections you already have in your life. Who supports you when need it?
Use the activity in the video to identify people you have a relationship with that can reach out to. It could include friends, family, teachers, people you work with or people who have a shared interest or hobby.
Now think about ways you can connect with that person and build a relationship.
- How would you get in touch if you were feeling like you needed support?
- How can they reach out to you?
You will need a pen and paper.
Why staying connected is important
Sometimes it can be difficult to stay connected with people we care about. When people are far away from us, or when we’re struggling with our own wellbeing, we can feel more lonely than normal. It is important to remember that there are still ways we can connect and feel close to others even when physically apart.
Watch the video and reflect on the importance of staying connected with others.
Talking about how we feel
Having meaningful conversations with people we care about is an important way of staying connected and building relationships. Could you reach out to someone and start a conversation about how you are feeling? It might feel daunting to start a serious conversation, but most people will respond well.
Some key tips to follow are:
- You can begin by asking them a question about how they have been doing lately, or by just asking honestly if they have time to talk.
- Don’t give up if they don’t have time at that moment. Either reach out to someone else or plan to talk at another time.
- Only tell them what you feel comfortable talking about. You don’t need to say anything you really don’t want to, remember that you are in control.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t be judgemental about how you are feeling or that you are reaching out for help. Having people around us to support us makes us stronger and more resilient.
- Try not to assume they don’t want to help you.
- Think about how you would feel if they came to you for support and trusted you to confide in. Most people feel good when they feel valued and needed, even if they feel anxious about saying the wrong thing.
- Having open conversations can help us stay connected with the people who matter most to us, especially if we’re feeling lonely.
- If you need to speak to someone, urgently remember that there are always people to talk to. You can call the Red Cross support line, or the Samaritans. They will support you. You are not alone.
For tips on how to listen to people who need support, look at our supporting yourself and others page.
Making new connections
Could you make a new connection today? If you feel like you want to meet more people, how can you help yourself do that? Could you join a new class, club or group in your local area or who meet online? What about picking up a hobby you’ve stopped doing, or start a new hobby you’ve never tried before?
Empower yourself to reach out to others and trying new ways to meet people. Start by thinking about what you enjoy doing or what you’d like to try out. It might seem nerve wracking to join a new group or try something new and that feeling is normal, but temporary.
Sharing your time
Connecting with people and seeing them enjoy what you share feels great and can be the start of a new positive relationship. Volunteering is another way to connect with others and boost your confidence.
Find out what is happening in your local community and think about how you may be able to help. Make a list of any volunteering opportunities that interest you and see which one suits you best. You can volunteer with the Red Cross, explore all opportunities.
Feel confident about building connections
Having a supportive network of connections can help to maintain and boost your wellbeing and provide support when dealing with difficult times.
It's not always easy to build a network but supporting your wellbeing can make you feel more confident to do this. Explore all our wellbeing activities and information to help, or try these resources.
Boost your wellbeing with our free self-kindness toolkit. It's full of activities to build resilience, cope with worries, and connect with others.. You can order printed copies or download the pack to read online.