In Part 1 of Creating Calm in the Chaos we discussed the importance of returning to our breath and fostering stillness as ways to reduce and navigate stressful and painful experiences. In Part 2 we will explore the importance of fostering connection with others.
While connecting to your breath and body is an important step in navigating suffering, connecting with others is also an important part of weathering personal storms. Suffering can be an incredibly isolating experience. Connecting with those worthy to share your experience with can alleviate some of the loneliness of the journey. As you explore ways to foster connection, the following options may be worth considering:
• join an in-person support group
• prioritize taking time to talk to close friends or trusted family members
• lean on the companionship of a spouse/partner
• utilize online support groups tailored to your specific need
If you are finding it hard to reach out and foster connection, dig deep and explore what is holding you back – is it fear?
One of the barriers we can face when fostering connection is we don’t feel ready to share the details of our trails or challenges with others, even with those close to us. To address this, we can set boundaries surrounding what we are willing to share, while still accepting support and connection. For example, would a loved one understand if you said “I’m not ready to share what I’m up against right now, but I could really use some quality time together” or “I’m struggling and not ready to talk about the details, but I would benefit from your love and support right now. I could really use a weekly phone call…”.
Often times when we need support we need to let our support team know how we feel cared for and comforted – after all, they can’t read our minds. As you reach out to others to foster connection in the chaos can you make an effort to specify what type of help and support you are looking for?
As humans we are hardwired for connection and it is needed and important in seasons of distress. Connection with others has proven to reduce our physical and emotional suffering while prolonged loneliness can have catastrophic long-term health consequences. So, consider setting a connection goal daily and/or weekly in times of stress to help foster the additional support you maybe needing.
As you foster and create calm in the chaos, set aside time to nurture connection with others. I'd love to hear from you. What are some other ways you can think of that this might become a regular possibility in your life? What are some of the things holding you back? What has worked for you in connecting with others in times of stress that others reading this might find useful?
Sara Hughes-Zabawa, LMSW has extensive experience working with trauma survivors, depression & anxiety, LGBT+ individuals and their families, and faith transitions. She is also a yoga instructor and uses mindfulness training to support clients in cultivating self-care practices.