According to the Mental Health Foundation of the UK, human relationships or connections with other people form the foundation of mental health and wellbeing. It cites data from a review of 148 scientific studies showing that the impact of social relationships on the risk of death is comparable to the impact of smoking and alcohol consumption and more than the effect of physical inactivity and obesity.
Various studies show that isolation, loneliness, and a lack of good relationships lead to poor mental and physical health, lower life satisfaction, and higher mortality rates. Being in a toxic relationship is even worse than being alone, though, leading to higher risks.
On the other hand, having good relationships gives people a sense of belonging and purpose, leading to happier and longer lives. It is not just the presence of relationships that matter, but the quality of those relationships. A study by Harvard University shows that relationships and not wealth, fame, or hard work, bring people health and happiness.
Relationships with Physical Distances
For many people, physical distance is a reality in relationships. The diaspora affects people from various countries who must leave their families to seek jobs elsewhere. Some of them must stay away for years and only visit their homes for short periods.
Recently, the pandemic has imposed the same physical distancing even among people who live in the same country, city, or even the same neighborhood. To protect each other and prevent the further spread of Covid-19, families and close friends who live in different households cannot meet up like before.
In these situations, it is even more important to find ways to sustain relationships with family and friends. Linking up generates mutual benefits that are immeasurable and invaluable. According to Mayo Clinic, we must use our creativity in these times to meet our need for human connection.
Communicate and Keep Virtual Connections Genuine
Fortunately, current technology enables people to connect and communicate with loved ones and friends through mobile calls and the Internet. Hearing a voice makes such a big difference from merely reading text messages. Video calls are even more cherished as the next best thing to being face-to-face.
Set aside a regular time to call each family member and close friend. Make each one feel that you are always there for them. Be in the moment during each call and listen carefully with an open mind and open heart. Make yourself vulnerable and share your thoughts and feelings, as well. Allow the exchange of support for each other.
Group calls are precious among family members and groups of friends. Organize separate group calls with each call comprised of people who are also close to each other.
You can organize game nights among these groups. There are many free group games online that you can use or make up your own. Make sure you customize the game to the people who are in the group. For instance, do not introduce a naughty game to a family group with your ultra-conservative aunt unless you want a scolding.
Celebrate occasions with virtual get-togethers. Online parties can mark birthdays, graduations, engagements, anniversaries, and other milestones. Create a special video showing photos through the years. Ask guests to share their messages and good wishes. Have an online toast.
Nurture Long-Distance Relationships with Thoughtfulness
If you can spare it, share some monetary assistance to family members and close friends who need it badly and send this through reliable online money remittance services. Sending cash gives them the flexibility and freedom to use it as they please, depending on their priorities. This is especially important because they may have essential needs that you do not know, such as certain maintenance medications.
If you have more, you can also send necessities like basic food and grocery items. Beyond these, it will make them happy to receive things they might not think to buy for themselves, little luxuries like fancy chocolates, freshly ground coffee beans, fruity herbal teas, aromatherapy massage oils, and fragrant handmade organic soaps, among others.
If you cannot afford these, you can still show your thoughtfulness by creating handmade cards and other tokens. You can send your creations by courier or take photos of them and send these online. If you have no artistic bent, there are free sites online where you can choose virtual cards to send. Add a personal message for the recipient.
Bridge the Distance
Heartfelt communication can bridge physical distance through technology. It is not the mere act of getting in touch that matters, but the quality of the human connection. Keep in mind that a relationship means a two-way commitment, whether for a friendship, a blood relation, or a romantic relationship.
Before, during, or after the pandemic, relationships prevail. In times of crisis and in times of success, you feel the need to share with loved ones and friends, and they feel the same. This is what it means to be bonded.