Here's our community top tips for feeling connected this year:
1- Reading challenge
I set myself a reading challenge in 2023, pledging to read 24 books in total. I signed up to a website (and app) called GoodReads, which makes it easy to log the books I'd read, follow my progress and find new recommendations. I connected with my cousin, and each time she finished a book, I'd get an email with her review. Its only small, but it helped keep me on track with my challenge and helped me feel part of something. When I saw my cousin at Christmas, we had so much to discuss!
2- Taking part in parkrun
I was already running a lot, but always alone. I decided to come along to a parkrun locally and I loved the atmosphere. In the past few months, I've been to every event and I enjoy seeing the power of community and being active without competition.
3- Really listen
I came across a quote by Stephen Covey which really stuck with me: "Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply." It's not always an easy thing to do, but when I try to be fully present and practice active listening, the conversation is much more interesting and I find I can connect with others in a deeper way.
4- Brighten someone's day
I work in a post office and a few months ago, someone complimented my necklace and struck up a really friendly conversation. It sounds a bit bizarre but that moment of connection, it made my day. This year I'm going to focus on expressing gratitude and appreciation for the people in my life, and trying to brighten someone else's day whenever I can.
5- Shop local
It's not easy to resist the ease of the supermarket, but where I can, I try to shop in the specialist shops on my high street: bookshop for books, grocers for fruit and veg, charity shop for clothes, hardware shop for a lightbulb etc. Investing in community makes me feel like I belong here, and it often works out cheaper.
6- Shared interests
When I go on a bike ride, I upload my route to Strava. It's a good way to keep in touch with my friends because we're not really the kind of guys to just start up a conversation by text.
Being a part of Marmalade Trust this winter has brought joy into my life. I was feeling lonely too, so we’ve both benefitted. Spending time with someone who really benefits from some friendly conversation helped me create a sense of purpose and connection.
8- Join a group
I joined a WhatsApp group for local mums. Everyday someone will ask a parenting question, share their frustrations or recommendations for things to do. I was even brave enough to go along to one of the meet-ups and had a lovely time. Definitely recommend to other parents!
9- Prioritise quality time
This year I'm going to make a conscious effort to spend quality time with my husband and my kids. I thought that just because I see people everyday, I wouldn't get lonely, but I've come to realise it doesn't work that way. I can't remember the last time we actually had a proper conversation.
10- Meetups at home
You don't necessarily have to leave home to experience good quality connection.
I love my monthly Friday evening Zoom call with my girlfriends who are not local, we have a good gossip and a glass of wine. I feel like we are all together!
Thank you to our community for sharing these brilliant tips. We hope you find them inspiring - try a few or choose your own. Let's make this year full of meaningful connection!