One of the keys to well-being identified by the folks at Science for the Greater Good at UC Berkeley is social connection. Social connection simply means feeling like we belong and feel close to other people. That feeling of connectedness helps us be happier and improves our mental and physical health. We increase it by growing our social network and building deeper and healthier relationship habits.

It’s a strange time to consider connection when all over – including where I am – we are staying inside and away from each other. We are invited to be more conscious of our need to connect and take action to maintain and deepen the relationships we have.

We have new tools for connection. “Old” tools include letter writing and phone calls. To those, we can add sending email messages, texts, social networking and using online video tools. In the face of stay-at-home executive orders, most of my groups – family, hobby, and religious – have begun using the latter. We want to stay safe and maintain connection.

The words “alone together” perfectly describe our situation at the moment. I first ran into the phrase as the title of a new song performed by Bobi Wine and created to encourage social distancing in Africa. We have retreated to our separate living spaces AND we are doing it together.

Here are three simple ways you can increase your sense of social connection even amidst our quarantine culture:

  1. Make a list of people for whose presence in your life  you are grateful. (Extra credit if you let them know it.)
  2. Check in on three people on a regular basis by calling them on the phone.
  3. Look around your living space and note and increase the number of images that show people connecting. (Recent research shows that 18 month- old and toddlers who saw pictures featuring social connection were more likely to help someone with a simple task.)

Notice and celebrate the connections in your life. You will live a happier, longer life.