Socialising is important, it is one of our basic human needs just like food and our mental health is negatively affected if these needs aren’t being met. Most people think that everyone’s social needs are easily met, especially if you’re a young person.
Sometimes people struggle with socialisation and they experience loneliness and don’t know where to start when it comes to improving their social needs. There are different ways to meet your social needs. You don’t need to be going to parties with a big group of friends nor do you need to be socialising and making plans every single day. Here are 9 examples of ways to meet your social needs:
Spend time with friends – One true friend is more valuable than 100 friends that you can’t trust or talk to. Sometime as you get older it can be hard to stay in touch or see each other often but maybe try and arrange one day a month where you meet for an hour to catch up
Spend time with family – If you’re lucky enough to have a good relationship with people in your family – from your mum to your siblings to your cousins – this can be enough to meet your social needs. Especially if you enjoy hanging out with them. I have a great relationship with my cousins and have always thought of them as “siblings that I don’t have to live with and fight with growing up” I have a cousin my own age which has always been great for me socially and I have a my youngest cousin who is like the little sister I never had.
Spending time out in the community – go to a local cafe or coffee shop, maybe you’ll get talking to others in the community. You may even make a friend. You can also have a look to see what else is out in the community to meet your social needs.
Take up a class or hobby – local community centres, libraries or even mental health charities might be running things such as creative writing groups or art classes. I joined an art group through a platform and I do a yoga class weekly. If you see something you’re interested in, give it a try. Maybe you’ll meet new people with similar interests.
Volunteer – volunteering is a good way to meet your social needs and you’ll get more out of it than you realise. You could become a peer mentor with platfform which also involves gaining a qualification and allows you to do volunteering. There are also plenty of volunteering opportunities out in the community where you can help people who need it and you’ll likely meet lots of other people while volunteering.
Social media – This has been very important for us to keep in touch socially during covid lockdowns and restrictions. Social media really opens you up to new connections and new ways to meet people you have things in common with. Even anonymously you can chat to people online who have similar interests or problems without needing to give out personal info about yourself.
I’ve made some amazing friends online who kept me going when I was struggling with isolation and other stuff in “real life” and I am forever grateful for their friendship and support and I will always consider a couple of them to be my closest friends. Just please remember to be safe online especially if you’re a minor.
Support groups – if your mental health is something that causes you to struggle socially there are support groups available for others who are going through the same thing. They’ll understand your social anxiety and you could end up making some great friends. I meet my closest friends in a social support group.
Set up your own social group – if there are no social groups for young adults in your area you could start one! In 2018-19, I co-produced a social group for young people with an organisation called SCVS who were able to obtain the necessary funding. Look into how to start a group and what it would involve. Find out if there are any organisations that you can suggest starting a group with or any existing groups – for example a mental health group – that could help you start one specifically for young people.
Pets – Even having a loving pet can contribute towards meeting your social needs. Animals are loving creatures that you can love back and they can truly make a difference to your mental health. Pets are known to help your emotional wellbeing and can be used as therapy animals.
If you live alone, having a pet can make you feel less lonely, especially during times when you aren’t socialising or going out as much (something all of us have experienced during this pandemic). Caring for your pet also gives you something to do with your time but make sure you’re ready to commit to caring for a pet before you adopt one.
Most pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family or their “babies”, pets can really mean the whole world to a person especially if they’re lonely and don’t have many people in their life. Having a pet such as a dog can also help you meet other people, you might talk to other dog walkers at the park and bond over your dogs or while out on your daily walk someone may come over to see your cute little pup and get talking to you.