By: Victoria Libby M.S.Ed., Psy.D. & Hilarie Fotter, M.S.
In this age of constant contact through social media, are we really connecting? I’m talking about the full definition – the one that includes a sense of belonging. Are you feeling that? There is the risk that all this connection through social media cuts back on the time people could be spending face to face building the relationships that create a sense of belonging. So after asking that question if you don’t feel connected- it’s understandable! It takes an effort to make those connections in a way that it didn’t before social media existed. We now have to be more intentional about making time for face to face contact. So why is this so important? Building a social connection is one of the most protective factors in mental health. Have you read the health studies or seen the TED talks (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015; Waldinger, 2015)? Social isolation is associated with greater psychological difficulties, poorer physical health and even earlier mortality! Feeling connected to others is associated with better physical health and mental well-being. Even the World Health Organization now lists “social support networks” as a determinant of health (WHO).
So what can you do if you’re not feeling connected?
Push yourself to do the opposite of what you feel. Social isolation breeds more isolation. The best way to break that cycle is to actively engage in doing the opposite of what you are feeling. It will get easier the more you do it.
Get involved in at least one event or activity at USM. Take a look at the community calendar on the USM website or app. You can come and go. Anyone can join to the degree they feel most comfortable. A few of the options to consider:
The ROCC-the Recovery Oriented Campus Center is a student led, peer support center that houses a number of activities, groups and events designed to foster personal growth by embracing all pathways to recovery and building connections to the community.
Student Diversity Center-an inclusive and supportive setting across culture and sexual identity which promotes activities and events as well as a meeting place for affiliated student organizations.
Student Clubs and Organizations-there are 50+ organizations around campus overseen by the student-run Board of Student Organizations; planning activities on both campuses.
Student Government-the Student Senate has weekly meetings and many opportunities for involvement in and around campus as a student leader.
Greek Life-there are four Greek Letter Organizations at USM which participate in philanthropic fundraisers and community service projects.
Intramural Sports-activities such as dodgeball, floor hockey and ultimate frisbee events and tournaments.
USM Athletic Centers -offers fitness classes, activities with a group or individually at either the Costello Fitness Complex in Gorham or the Sullivan Gym in Portland.
Veterans Center-offers a space and resources for USM students who are veterans as well as their families.
Outdoor Adventures Board-Bringing students out into nature providing adventures from zip lining to white water rafting.
If any of this feels like too much to handle on your own or you notice your shyness getting in the way Health and Counseling is here to help! Call and set up an appointment
105 Payson Smith Hall 156 Upton Hall
Portland, ME Gorham ME