Surviving the winter blues ~ Tip #5

Surviving the winter blues ~ Tip #5

The countdown to Spring has officially begun…only 14 days to go!

Just in time for our final Surviving the Winter Blues Tip #5

Connect with others

Winter can often be a time for solitude and reflection and to be honest as we journey through this very ‘connected’ world, time alone in quietness can be a soothing balm.

Being an introvert, I look forward to those moments when I can recharge my batteries, whether that is on a walk around the bay or painting in my studio.

Photo by Sancha ~ my morning walk

Photo by Sancha ~ my morning walk

As tempting as it is to snuggle up in winter and watch endless episodes on Netflix, we are social creatures by nature and studies show how important it is for us to engage socially.

There are many benefits in connecting with others, such as reduced stress levels, better mental and physical health, and even longevity.

It seems very appropriate to be writing about connecting with others for my last ‘Surviving the Winter Blues Tip’ because after the sad passing of Millie the connection and support of friends and family was what really helped me to get through the first few weeks of grief and loss. There were certainly lots of lovely text messages and phone calls but it was the time spent in actual conversation ‘one on one’ where I found the most healing.

Photo by Remi Walle on  Unsplash

Photo by Remi Walle on Unsplash

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship
— Dr Brene Brown

Amazing things are possible when we truely connect with others. We can achieve way more in our lives when we do things together. I know in my own life, that some of the most creative and special times I’ve experienced have been in the context of sharing with others.

A few years ago, a friend invited me to join a Friday afternoon painting class at the Royal Art Society in Lavender Bay. Everyone in the class was there to learn how to improve their oil painting and drawing skills but what ended up happening was that we developed a strong connection. We travelled together sharing painting trips and also supported each other through the ups and downs of our own artistic journeys. We encouraged each other creatively often exhibiting together….they were special times.

As any artist ( in any field) knows, it can be quite isolating working in a studio alone so connecting with other artists through workshops and classes can really provide a boost to your energy and creativity. It’s also reassuring to find out that you are not alone in your artistic frustrations and these forums can often provide safe places to receive positive feedback and ideas that might challenge and move your own art in a new direction.

Photo by Tim Marshall on  Unsplash

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Think back to the most important experiences of your life, the highest highs, the greatest victories, the most daunting obstacles overcome. How many happened to you alone? I bet there are very few. When you understand that being connected to others is one of life’s greatest joys, you realize that life’s best comes when you initiate and invest in solid relationships
— John C Maxwell

My husband Cameron and I, have a special group of friends who we share a meal with once a month. Some of us have known each other since childhood.

This monthly ritual began close to 20 years ago, when we were all young married couples, then our numbers grew as babies came along. We take it in turns to host our group of just over 30 and we’ve certainly shared and supported each other through the highs and lows of parenthood. Who knew when we began sharing these meals so many years ago, that we would still be connecting every month (when we can) two decades later. So much has happened in that time….there have certainly been times of joy and celebration but perhaps what has brought us even closer are the tough times that we have been able to support each other through.

Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Photo by Duy Pham on  Unsplash

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

We have lots of coffee shops and restaurants within walking distance of our home here in Sydney’s Inner West. I love walking past, hearing the excited sounds of conversation and people connecting over a meal.

As a family, we look forward to dinner time each night where we get to connect with each other about the day we’ve had - the good things that have happened, the challenges, the funny stories ( my family loves humour and telling stories). This is something we look forward to and something we NEED. It’s like oxygen for our souls!

There is a loneliness epidemic in the world we’re living in, which is so ironic when you think about how easy (in theory) it is to connect with others via technology. But how much of the connecting that we are doing with our social groups are deep and positive?

I’m so proud of my daughter’s recent decision to delete Snapchat and Instagram from her phone. It was a bit of an experiment for her to see what sort of difference it would make in her life. There were a couple of positive changes - her friends were more likely to call her up and have a chat rather than a quick interchange on snapchat or message on Instagram. AND she generally felt happier and more productive. I also go through periods of time when I just need to feel more connected to this world rather than the often superficial world of Facebook and Instagram.

As I’ve mentioned before I often listen to podcasts while I’m exercising and yesterday I was listening to Happiness researcher Shawn Achor in his presentation on Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions. (I highly recommend subscribing to her Podcast - It’s inspirational)

I had already written a large part of this blog post before I went for a walk and you can imagine my excitement when at the very end of his talk he made reference to the importance of social connection, he said:

Social connection is the greatest predictor of long term happiness we have
— Shawn Achor: Super Soul Sessions - The Life Altering Power of a Positive Mind
Social connection is as predictive of how long you’ll end up living as obesity, high blood pressure or smoking
— Shawn Achor: Super Soul Sessions - The Life Altering Power of a Positive Mind

You can watch the full presentation here: Scroll down to the second video - Super Soul Sessions, although the first talk (his TED talk) is also very entertaining.

Shawn finishes the talk by encouraging the audience to take 2 minutes a day to write a positive email or text message praising or thanking one person in their life for the next 3 days. He said that by the end of these 3 days you’ll find the results so addictive ( in the most positive way) that if you continue for 21 days the depth, breadth and meaning of those social connections will be off the charts. This is a truely positive way to use technology to deepen social connections.

I LOVE this idea and I’m going to take up the challenge.

There are many ways that we can CONNECT WITH OTHERS and the most meaningful will sometimes take us out of our comfort zone but I promise you that it will be worth it.

I look to my family for inspiration here and I remember the time that Ashton went and sat with a new child at school who looked lonely, I remember the impact that Sienna had during her work experience at an Autistic school when she made connection with children who had up until that point been non verbal in their expression and I look to my wonderful husband who connected with a homeless man living in his car behind our house just a couple of days ago.

How can you CONNECT with the people in your realm of influence (and possibly even strangers) in a deeper way this coming week?

I hope that you have found these 5 Tips to Surviving the Winter Blues helpful and if you have, maybe you’d like to share them with your friends who may need a bit of sunshine in their day :)

Would love to hear the ways you’ve connected with people, you can leave a comment below,

Xo Sancha

Come & paint with me ~ Spring Flowers Watercolour Workshop

Surviving the winter blues ~ Tip #4

Surviving the winter blues ~ Tip #4