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How to connect to your community and make new friends

12 Nov 2018
Having more of a sense of belonging is great for your mental health. Here are some tips on how to reach out to groups and individuals.

You probably act differently around older family members than you do with mates your own age. That’s one really cool thing about having diverse connections to people: it means we get to explore different parts of who we are.

When you think about it, every single relationship you have is unique. Depending on who you’re with you might do different things, talk about different stuff and even speak in different languages. There are lots of different parts of your personality. The more relationships we have, the better we can get at connecting with people from all works of life and the more we learn about ourselves.

Knowing that we belong is also really good for our headspace. Here are some tips on how to reach out to others and find that sense of belonging.

Connect to your community

You belong to a lot of different communities at once, based on things like your:

  • neighbourhood
  • language
  • culture
  • mob
  • religion
  • gender and sexual identity
  • school, uni or TAFE
  • immediate family
  • extended family
  • online groups
  • close friends
  • circles of acquaintances
  • sports teams
  • arts interests (like music, film, drama, poetry, literature, visual art or dance)
  • work
  • volunteering
  • interests and hobbies
  • issues you care about
  • the global community we’re all part of a human beings.

It can be great to get closer to a community you’re a part of. For example, you might like to speak to a relative or elder to learn more about a culture. We can also join new communities any time we choose. Why not join a club, society, sports team, hobby group or even an online forum? It can help you feel more connected and part of something bigger than yourself.
 

Build your social skills

It can seem like some people are just better at talking than others. But actually, social skills are something we can practice and improve. Here are a few tips on how to work on your social A-Game:

  • Remember, pretty much everyone feels nervous or awkward sometimes.

  • You don’t have to be a party animal to be social – maybe you prefer hanging out with people one on one, or in small groups.

  • Practice saying hello and striking up conversations with new people – it might take a lot of effort at first, but you’ll get better at it over time.

  • Ask people questions about themselves and things they’re interested in – you’ll have a better chance of connecting with almost anyone if you show an interest in who they are.

 

Bounce back from rejection

From mild FOMO (fear of missing out) to serious humiliation, feeling left out is really painful. It’s also really normal. Pretty much everyone feels different, criticised or excluded at different points in their life. Sometimes we feel these things when people really did mean to leave us out. At other times they didn’t mean anything by it, weren’t aware how we felt, or had another reason for acting the way they did.

It’s important to remember that while embarrassment and loneliness can feel intense, we do get through these experiences and come out the other side. It can help to make friends from different parts of your life so you’ve got a range of people to turn to. For example, if you’re having trouble with school, talking to friends from sport, music or work can help you build resilience.

If you’ve been experiencing ongoing bullying, it’s a good idea to talk to someone. Find out more about what to do if you or someone you know is getting bullied.
 

Be yourself

Remember, it’s awesome be your own person. It can seem tricky, but you don’t have to pretend to be different to who you are to fit in. Everyone find their own crew. You're liked and loved exactly as you are. Sometimes its helpful to be reminded of that. If you’re feeling lonely or struggling to connect, the team at headspace can give you some practical support. Get in touch with your local headspace centre today.

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