Social Connection and Loneliness

Social Connection and Loneliness

Social connection is important for sustaining our sense of feeling cared for, supported, and listened to. The relationships that we have with our family, friends, and co-workers contribute to our well-being – physically, emotionally, and mentally. Interacting with others can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. When we feel socially connected, we may respond with more care and understanding for others and receive the same care and understanding in return, which supports our wellbeing. We may even feel better about ourselves overall. Not only can being connected to others improve your self-esteem, it can also positively influence how you respond when your emotions have been triggered.

Positive interactions from our supportive relationships improve our mood and reduce the negative impacts of stress and anxiety. Without being able to engage in our regular social activities and events, we are at an increased risk of mental health issues. 

This is why it is important to spend time building and maintaining strong social relationships with your friends, family, co-workers, residents, and students. 

Positive interactions from our supportive relationships improve our mood and reduce the negative impacts of stress and anxiety.

Feelings of Loneliness

Many people feel lonely. You may be separated from family and friends, separated from your colleagues, students, and parents. Any of these situations can take a real toll on your mental health.

You aren’t alone.

While loneliness can be very uncomfortable, it’s a feeling. Simple skills and strategies to boost resilience can help lower the volume of feelings like loneliness and help you find well-being despite separation from people you care about.

Seek support

One of the most important things you can do is reach out when you need it. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, but finding the right support can help you feel better. Here are some services and support to try:

  • Care for All in Education: Our specialists have years of training and experience working in both education and mental health and are ready to listen to your needs and help support your mental health and wellness. To learn more about your dedicated educational mental health support team, take a look at their bios and what motivates them to support the mental health of Manitoba’s educational front-line staff. Your Wellness Support Specialists can be reached by phone at 1-877-602-1660 or by email at
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): If your workplace offers a Family/Employee Assistance Program, contact your workplace F/EAP provider to see what mental health and well-being resources are available and how they can help you.
  • – Free 24/7 telephone counselling and peer support
  • Mental Health Crisis/Non-Crisis Support Information
    The Province of Manitoba Mental Health and Seniors Care website has a comprehensive list of both crisis and non-crisis mental health contacts. Visit

Connecting Through Communication

Taking the time for authentic discussions can be an energizing experience. And the pay-off is two-fold because it also benefits the person you are speaking with!

Talking with someone about your experiences, worries, and concerns is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. This is especially true if the person you talk to is, or has been, in the same situation as you. Try connecting with your co-workers about your changing work environment, the stresses you are experiencing together, and your feelings about them. You can start a conversation with a colleague by asking them how they are coping and encouraging them to share with you.

It will do everyone some good.


Being a Good Communicator

There are many techniques that you can use to promote a meaningful conversation. Remember, talking is only half of your job! Listening is the other half. When someone is sharing their feelings and vulnerabilities with you it is especially important to listen actively, so the other person feels supported and understood.

To learn more about being an emotionally present and active listener, check out this link from MindTools: Active Listening – Communication Skills Training from


Show You Care

Put away your phone and any other distractions so you can focus your full attention on the other person and what they are saying.

Being willing to show your vulnerabilities invites trust into the relationship. If you share your weaknesses or fears, it is more likely that the other person will too.

Feeling overwhelmed, fearful, and unsure in times like these is normal. If someone shares that they are feeling things like this, tell them it’s okay and that they are not alone. Avoid diminishing or trivializing their concerns – even if they seem small to you, they are important to the other person.


Respond Thoughtfully

Open-ended questions usually start with Why? What? or How? and require more than a yes or no answer. They show your interest in what the other person is talking about and invite them to share their experiences. To learn more about the importance of good questions and how to pose better open-ended questions, check out this guide from the Harvard Business Review: How to Ask Great Questions (

It’s okay to smile and laugh – even when times are tough. It is a great way to combat stress and anxiety while improving your mood and resiliency.

Empathy is a technique where you try to share the feelings of another person which can help make that person feel supported, heard, and understood. To learn more about empathy and how to use it as a tool for improved communication, check out this detailed article from ThoughtCo: Empathy vs. Sympathy: What Is the Difference? (

Look Up

Be Respectful

Giving unsolicited advice can be interpreted as insensitive, even if you have good intentions. It’s best just to listen and be supportive as the other person works it out on their own.

Did you know that the majority of what we communicate to one another is non-verbal? Paying attention to your tone of voice and body language can go a long way.

If it seems that the person you are talking to is feeling uncomfortable or doesn’t want to get into a certain topic, don’t pressure them. They should only share something if they want to.


Show Appreciation

Practicing gratitude can reduce negative emotions and increase resiliency. Saying something like “thank you for sharing and listening” or “our conversations mean a lot to me” at the end of a discussion can be a nice way to wrap things up.


Take Care of Your Health and Well-being

Your physical health and mental health are connected. When you fall behind on healthy eating, sleep, and exercise, you might notice that negative thoughts come up more often. It may be harder to manage stress and harder to find hope and optimism. Taking care of yourself as well as you can make a big difference.


Take Time to Breathe

Find space to be still. Take a few minutes every day to disconnect and breathe. You can find simple deep breathing exercises from eMental Health.

Mindfulness is another great skill. If you’re interested in trying mindfulness, there are great apps like MindShift,  Headspace (only free for 5 days), and CALM to help you get started.


Focus on One Thing You Can do Right Now to Feel Better

Many people doubt their own strength and resilience in the middle of an emergency. When you feel overwhelmed, think of one thing you can realistically do right now (or by the end of the day) to help yourself feel better. For example, you could message a friend, go for a walk, call a support line, spend time on a hobby, or write a meal plan for the upcoming work week.


Distract Yourself

Distraction can be a useful tool when you just feel really bad but can’t fix the problem right away. Watch a movie or show, read your favourite book, listen to music—whatever helps to interrupt negative thoughts and focus your attention on something else.

Reach Out and Give Back

Helping others can strengthen connections and improve your own mental health. Check in with friends, family members, and co-workers. Ask them how they’re doing and see if there is anything you can do to help. If a friend, family member, or co-worker is in self-isolation, have a meal or small gift delivered to their home. Simple acts can make a huge difference and remind others that you care about them.

Web Resources

For more information, we have compiled a list of resources to help you stay connected during these difficult days.


Canada Life – Workplace Strategies for Mental Health

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health is a leading source of free practical tools, tips and training materials designed to help employees and employers prevent and manage mental health issues in and out of the office. Resources address enhancing workplace culture and leadership, change and conflict, managing performance and stress, planning to return to work or retire, and more.

VIDEO – Empathy Vs. Sympathy (Dr. Brené  Brown)

When it comes to interpersonal communication, one of the questions we hear a lot is “What’s the difference between sympathy and empathy?” In this video, Dr. Brené Brown for one of the best explanations of empathy vs sympathy, and why empathy is so important.

Printable Resources



Friendship in the Age of Loneliness: An Optimist’s Guide to Connection

By: Adam Smiley Poswolskye
This refreshing, positive guide helps you take care of your people and form deep connections in the digital age.

We Should Get Together: The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendships

by Kat Vellos
Is a modern handbook that shares the best tools to overcome the four most common challenges to adult friendships: constant relocation, full schedules, the demands of partnership and family, and our culture’s declining capacity for compassion and intimacy in the age of social media.

Navigating Loneliness: How to Connect with Yourself and Others

by Cheryl Rickman
Through actionable strategies, you will discover how to support and maintain existing relationships, foster new connections and learn how to shift your perspective about community and belonging.


The Lonely Hour with Julia Bainbridge

A space to talk openly in hopes of both de-stigmatizing loneliness and underscoring the joys of solitude.

Communication and Problem-Solving Skills

Written for family members of those who are dealing with a mental health issue, Module 3 of the Family Toolkit offers detailed information about communication skills that apply to all types of interactions.

Effective Communication – Improving your Social Skills

This website offers information about the benefits of engaging in conversation and how to develop your communication skills.

Looking For More?

Free resources to help with your anxiety available from your phone

Suicide Prevention Line

If you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be, call the Suicide Prevention line. Someone will be ready to listen and speak to you.

Call 1-800-784-2433 anytime.


Download for iOS or Android

This free app from Anxiety Canada helps users track anxiety daily. You will work through tools while applying Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches.

Download today for Apple or Android.


Text Mood to 760-670-3130

If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, Text4Mood sends you a daily inspirational text message to support positive mental health.

To join, text Mood to 760-670-3130.