By nature, we are social creatures. But sometimes, we allow life to get in the way and deprioritize our friendships. And unfortunately, not only does it take a toll on the quality of our relationships, but it negatively affects our health too. Yup, we need social connections like sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet to keep ourselves healthy and happy. So, it’s important to learn how to maintain social connections when you’re busy to live your best life.
7 Reasons Social Connection is Important
Prioritizing your friendships and connecting with your loved ones is a lot more important than you may realize. In fact, it’s necessary for our survival and enhances our life physically and mentally. Here are a few of the reasons why it’s always best to prioritize your relationships.
- Lower rates of anxiety and depression
- Greater emotional intelligence
- Improved immune systems
- Healthier gut microbiome
- Higher self-esteem and self-worth
- Increased happiness
- Longer life expectancy
How to Maintain Social Connections When You’re Busy
1. Catch up on the phone
When you’re too busy to see your friend in person, jump on the phone. Technology is your friend, and sending a quick text doesn’t require a lot of time. In fact, a text conveys the message that “I am thinking about you, and I care about you”. These thoughtful gestures maintain the quality of your friendships even if you can’t connect face-to-face. You can also schedule a specific time that works with both of your schedules to catch up, even briefly.
2. Send ‘Thinking of you’ messages
Similarly, sending ‘thinking of you’ messages can also be in the form of a funny meme you saw, an article you think they would like, or a cute animal video you think will brighten their day. These small but meaningful gestures go a long way to preserving a friendship. Every time they receive one of these messages, it will remind them that what you have is of value to you even if you can’t step away from work or your responsibilities. It will also maintain a chain of communication to continue the friendship and ease when you see them.
3. Invite them to your daily activities
Try cutting two carrots with one knife and invite your friends to your daily routine. For example, bring them to your weekly Pilates class and catch up. Or, if you love to run trails close to your home, run and gab along the way. Or catch up while cooking dinner and make quick and easy no-prep dinner ideas so you have more time to connect. Even working at a café together provides a sense of connection to enhance your relationship. Get creative when you’re pressed for time!
4. Plan in advance
Prioritize your friendships by planning ahead. It’s one of the easiest ways to achieve a better work/life balance when you’re stressed. Indeed, knowing that you have a planned date with a buddy two weeks from now will prevent you from double booking and overwhelming yourself with too many to-dos. It will also allow you to show up mindfully rather than worrying about your other responsibilities. So, link up your schedules and find a day, hire a babysitter, and go out and connect. Taking time for just you two will give you a chance to receive a break from your responsibilities, and it will strengthen your relationship.
5. Don’t have the habit of booking and canceling
If you’re a people pleaser or struggle to learn how to set boundaries for healthier relationships, you may tend to say yes to an outing in fear of hurting the friendship and have a habit of canceling when the outing rolls around. But while you may think canceling is more innocent than saying no, it actually hurts the friendship more. Even if you have a good excuse, people often feel upset or rejected when you back out, especially at the last minute. It can even cause some relationships to strain or end. Therefore, check in with yourself and truly think whether you can hang out. If not, the best policy is always honesty.
6. Be honest about your workload
Piggybacking from the previous tip, honesty is one of the best ways on how to maintain social connections when you’re busy. In fact, people with a lot on their plate lose friends because their relationships assume they’re not important enough. After several attempts to organize a friend date, they become conditioned and give up after the constant rejection. So to avoid losing a close buddy, be honest and reiterate how important they are. For example, say something along the lines of, “Hey, I’m so sorry that I haven’t been able to hang out as much as I used to. I am so busy right now, but I still care about you and value our friendship. I wish I could see you more, and I’d love to catch up soon”.
7. Reflect on your priorities
Perhaps you have the time, but you’re prioritizing other things right now – your marriage, kids, and career. That’s okay if you are, but it’s important to reflect and ask yourself if you’re prioritizing what you want. For example, maybe you feel pressured to prioritize work more for fear of a micromanaging boss or falling behind. Or perhaps you feel obligated to stay at home more often. But your friendships are voluntary, and it’s easy to neglect them when tight on time. Therefore, instead of becoming overwhelmed by what you think is expected of you, check in with yourself to ensure you’re prioritizing what you want and what fills your life.
8. Be there when it’s important
Let’s face it. Life can be a lot. Even if we do our best and utilize time management skills to achieve balance, we can find ourselves overwhelmed. But sometimes, we also place pressure on ourselves and try to ride out the rat race, often putting our health and our relationships at risk. So, if you can’t always meet up for coffee and catch up, it’s okay. Yet if a friend needs you, be there, especially if it’s important. The world won’t end if you push your to-do list for another day or reschedule a meeting. Showing up when it matters the most will mean more than missing catch-ups or social events. Your presence and willingness to sacrifice your responsibilities for them when they really needed you will show you truly care.
Life happens. But it matters more how you handle the situation (honesty is the best policy), show up when they need you, provide value, and get creative to convey your appreciation. These tips on how to maintain social connections when you’re busy will create a bright and positive future for your relationships.
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