5 surprising ways to get human connection when you really don’t feel like it

Let’s say you’re having one of those shabby old days when your mood’s in the gutter and you’re in the doldrums.

Let’s also hope that today isn’t one of these, although I’m sure we all have at least the occasional one.

Perhaps this is a thought to file under ‘Bring out again when necessary.’


I’ve reminded us both dozens of times that one effective way to lift mood is by connecting with others.

But what if you’re feeling grim and can’t face the thought of a conversation of any kind? How can you possibly do the connecting thing at times like this? Here are five ideas:

1. Opt for a more indirect channel of communication such as email or text messaging. You don’t have to say much, just a simple ‘How are you?’ can get the ball rolling.

2. Send a friend, or someone you love, a greetings card by snail mail. Don’t, perhaps, pour out your troubles in it because you’ll hopefully be feeling different by the time they get it, the mail being what it is these days. What’s important is that you’ll know you’ve made the connection.

3. If you can’t bear even these, just think about another person, visualising their face in your mind. There’s no way this can deliver as much benefit as a proper interaction, but simply thinking about someone who’s close to you can deliver some of the same physiological effects as actually being with them.

4. Although it might sound odd, it’s possible that you’ll feel more connected if you listen to the radio, or watch TV – particularly when the programme is some kind of talk show. Broadcasters sometimes use the trick of imagining they’re talking to one person when they’re on air: see yourself as their singular audience, and talk back to them if you like. (My Gran used to.) That probably sounds even odder, but why not?

5. If you’re out of the house, exchange pleasantries with those you come into contact with. Even simple things like saying thanks to someone who passes you the door handle after you follow them through, or saying hello to the bus driver, can help.

You can’t beat proper connections of course, but don’t let that stop you on days when you really can’t stomach the deep and meaningful kind.

3 thoughts on “5 surprising ways to get human connection when you really don’t feel like it

  1. Having a few ‘below average’ days currently when becoming a hermit seems really attractive.

    However you are so right that even just being out and alongside people really helps to lift mood & gain perspective.

    Currently in coffee bar, on my own but have had a chat with the barista & another customer so think I can face the rest of the day now.

  2. Perfect, Jon…just simple ‘hellos’ when passing runners, cyclists and their walkers and their dogs makes me feel better and hopefully, because I smile at the same time..brings them some warmth too. Always sad, though when some pass me by with heads down, collars up and a ‘No Entry’ look….but am hopeful that just a smile helps them even if no words are exchanged.


  3. These are great ideas- thank you!

    Today on the street I overheard someone say to the crowd something along the lines of “please smile. It’s a wonderful Wednesday morning and you get to choose how you feel about it.” While it wasn’t a direct interaction, I did pause and smile – first to myself and then to others!

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