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Building deeper connections in an isolating time

Alice Fong is a naturopathic doctor, specializing in stress. She says it's important to make deeper human connections right now. Here's how.

PORTLAND, Maine — The pandemic has forced people apart more than ever, and whether you're working from home or not, this past year and a half has certainly been isolating. Alice Fong is a naturopathic doctor, specializing in stress. Dr. Fong says it can be so important to make deeper human connections right now, and she offers up a few ways to do that...

We need a tribe we can call our own or a support system where we can have that sense of belongingness. Having people we can talk to about anything that bothers us—relationship problems, health concerns, or maybe as simple as to what to have for dinner helps build our resilience to get through any challenge.

  1. Be Intentional and State Your Desire for Deeper Connection. This might seem like an obvious solution, but it can often be unspoken as there is a level of vulnerability in asking for it. But setting the intention can help turn an average conversation about the weather into something more.
  2. Create a Safe Space. Give people the space to be themselves however they are, even if they are not opening up and sharing their deepest darkest secrets right away. It can take time to build trust and a sense of safety. People struggle with opening up because they fear they will be judged or worse, so create an environment that will ease these fears.
  3. Be Vulnerable First. Piggybacking off my last point of creating safe space, something that may help create that is by being vulnerable first. Sharing your struggles can help some people feel safe to share what they are struggling with in life. Though you’ll have to make the judgment call on whether or not you feel safe enough with the other person to share what it is you are dealing with, some people might surprise you and be more supportive than you realize rather than judgmental like you feared (though that is always a possibility, even if they judge you, getting over the fear and sharing anyway is a huge victory in itself).
  4. Listen To Get Them, Not to Respond, Change or Fix. Creating that deep connection with anyone begins with listening. Listen to what others have to say; listen for themes and values—what is the other person saying and what is important to them? Listen so they feel heard and understood, which is sometimes what people need, rather than trying to fix and change.
  5. Make a Game Out of It. These days there are several card games or books to give you some questions to ask each other to create deeper connections. So if you get stumped on where to begin, do a quick online search to find resources that will help you.

Dr. Alice Fong is known as the "Virtual Stress Doc," you can learn more about her 5-step holistic approach here. You can also text "YES" to 66866 to learn more.

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