The word connected has taken on a new meaning in modern society. It conjures images of people on cell phones, or Bluetooth calls. In a fast paced world, feeling connected to yourself is not always as easy as accepting an incoming call. Forming a deepening connection with yourself and the surrounding world is even more important than that work video teleconference. So, what does it really mean to connect to yourself?
Stimulating deep connections with others and self is paramount in wellbeing. A simple smile exchanged with a stranger crossing the street, or an unexpected friendly hello in a coffee shop can stimulate the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin then triggers the release of serotonin. These chemicals act as a reward within your body. This chemical release facilitates bonding with other people, reduce the body’s reaction to stress and can even lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The extended benefits of these hormone releases are far reaching, with impacts on sleep, depression, and even heart health.
It isn’t always easy to feel these connections with others, particularly if there is fear. Connecting with another person or environment happens in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The fight, flight or freeze response happens in the limbic system. Here is where an individual can learn to reduce the fear response, and form those deep connections.
Acknowledging three things a person is grateful for during the day can help override the fear response. Taking it one step further, writing down those three things by hand helps the brain process, and remember the experience even more so than just thinking of three events.
Another excellent technique is grounding. Grounding is a broader term for coming to the present moment, and there are many ways to do this. A favorite of many people is finding five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Think of it as a short meditation on the present moment.
Taking time out during the day to feel connected to others and the world around you doesn’t need to occupy a lot of time. The benefits will soon trigger the reward center in the brain and bring about a general sense of well being.