Why Reaching Out to Your Friends Matters

In the age of instant communication and non-stop interactions, it is easy to minimize the importance of reaching out to friends and family. Whether it is a call, a short text, or a simple email, it is almost always a welcome, significant, and meaningful gesture—for both the recipient and the initiator.

Research conducted by The American Psychological Association found that casual “check-ins” to the people in our various social networks mean a great deal more than we usually think.

“Even sending a brief message reaching out to check in on someone, just to say ‘Hi,’ that you are thinking of them, and to ask how they’re doing, can be appreciated more than people think.”

Peggy Liu, associate professor of business administration with the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business

According to the findings, the number of actual phone conversations people initiate these days is dramatically lower than in the past. Calling people is perceived to be an imposition on their time; it can feel less awkward to reach out via text or social media. But regardless of how we are creating the connection, the quick and effortless check-in is deemed meaningful, enjoyable, and important by those on the receiving end. While we might feel bad about interrupting someone’s day or taking away time from their other responsibilities, this research suggests that reaching out “just to say hi” is a powerful and important gesture.

As people, we are ingrained with the counterintuitive (and often destructive) assumption that our family and loved ones are not as interested in connection as we are, or as we’d like to be. Dr. Marisa Franco, psychologist, author, and University of Maryland assistant clinical professor, points to a “liking gap,” as the primary hindrance to most people’s communications.

Another reason people might keep themselves from calling or texting is  the “beautiful mess effect.” We have a hard time inquiring about a friend or loved one for fear of having to show our own vulnerabilities and/ or being judged by that person.

To be functioning at our best, we need to be in a connected state. Just like you need to eat, like you need to drink, you need to be connected to be functioning well.

Dr. Marisa Franco

Another exploration of this issue, published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, indicates that older adults link their sense of purpose directly to the positive social interactions they have on a regular basis.

With more and more Americans reporting a heightened sense of loneliness (contributing to what some are reporting as a loneliness crisis) made complicated — and intense — by pandemic-related regulations and habits, these studies underscore what we have likely known all along: a little bit (of connection) can go a long way (to easing someone else’s hardship). These two studies- and several others- draw attention to the need to connect with others each and every day. We all need to view our familial ties and friendships as critical pieces of our well-being. Even if/when making those connections seems like a burden or feels awkward, it needs to be a part of our self-care routine, just like eating healthy and exercising.

How to Stay Focused at Work this Holiday Season

working holiday seasonStaying focused at work during the holiday season can be extremely challenging. There is so much distracting you from your duties, including parties and family reunions, shopping, planning, traveling, children home from school, and more.

International business speaker Michael Kerr explained, “There are so many competing demands and expectations during the holidays that it is very easy to get overwhelmed and even burnt out.”

“Travel planning, guest preparations, gift shopping, children’s events, parties and so on must be crammed into already-full schedules, which causes stress,” added Casey Moore, The Productivity Coach. “Personal stress often affects work performance. It distracts people and diminishes productivity.” People also lose motivation, she said. “They’re more interested in their personal lives, whether from their stress, their to-dos, or their love of the holidays.”

It is also hard to remain motivated when co-workers and managers are away on vacation. Workflow slows down significantly, and keeping up a high level of productivity is difficult.

Here are 14 ways to stay focused at work during this year’s holiday season, according to Forbes:

  1. Take a few days off.
  2. Plan early and communicate your expectations and schedule.
  3. Create your to-do list and prioritize tasks.
  4. Avoid multitasking.
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  6. Start working on year-end projects and personal tasks early.
  7. Don’t take your work home.
  8. Get into the spirit.
  9. Watch out for distractions.
  10. Take care of yourself physically.
  11. Don’t over-commit.
  12. Remind yourself to stay focused at work.
  13. Do a self-evaluation.
  14. Look forward to next year.
  15. Remember what the holidays are all about.