Social Life

Social connections are an important source of fun, pleasure, sense of security, and support, all of which play into maintaining good physical and emotional health.

Social life and depression

Fighting depression

When you’re fighting depression, simply getting out of bed can be a struggle, and mustering enough energy and motivation to visit with friends and family can be harder still. Guys tend to withdraw from friends and family when they’re depressed, but this ends up making them feel more depressed.

Yet, just as a lack of social connection can contribute to your depression, improving social connections can actually help you fight depression. Researchers have found that people who feel more connected to others have lower rates of depression. Moreover, they also have higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more empathic and supportive in return. In this way, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.

Being social may sound like a daunting task when you’re feeling depressed, but the more you talk to people, the more connected you’ll feel, and as you start to get better it’ll be easier to maintain your social connections.

Social life and depression

Getting the most from your social life

Here you will find some tips that can help you tackle a couple of key problems related to social activity when a guy is depressed: 1) withdrawing from others, 2) difficulty making new friends and 3) using social media.

We also provide some tips to keep in mind for maintaining a rich and meaningful social life. Most people need only a couple or few good friends in their lives to make a positive impact on their health, but effort is needed to keep these bonds in place and strong.  These tips will help you feel connected and stay connected to others.

For more comprehensive information and guidance about social activity, scroll to the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this page.

Withdrawing from others?
Trouble making new connections?
Using social media
Withdrawing from others?

One of the biggest problems for guys when they’re depressed is social isolation.  Rather than let others know that he’s going through a hard spell, most guys tend to withdraw from their friends and family as a way to “protect” themselves.  But the problem is that the people a guy pulls away from are the same people that he needs around him when the chips are down.  These tips can help you stay connected to important people in your life. Remember, some things might not feel as fun or cool as they used to, but if you keep putting yourself in situations that you know could be fun or enjoyable, you’ll eventually be able to feel enjoyment, and be more energized too.

Remind yourself of the importance of others

Depression messes with your thoughts and can cause you to under-value the importance of friends and family in your life. Remind yourself that your life is richer and achieving good health is so much easier when you stay connected to friends and family.

 

Watch Jonathan’s Tip Video: Tips on Staying Social.

Believe in yourself

Don’t assume that because you don’t feel like being social that other people don’t want to be around you. When you make plans with someone, you’re actually helping fill the other person’s social needs as well – that’s something you can feel good about.

Keep it brief to start

If hanging out with friends or going to a social event seems too daunting, don’t worry.  Say hello to the clerk at your grocery store or your neighbour passing by. Though it may not seem like much, even brief interactions can help you feel connected to people in your life.

Chat with friends online or on the phone

It’s usually best if you can connect with someone in person, but if you don’t have the energy to do that, chatting with friends on the phone or online still counts.

Get a friend to do the planning

If you have a friend or family member who wants to get together, ask them to make the plans. This way you can just focus on showing up, without the worry of planning anything.

Be open with others

Friendships aren’t just about sharing good times. Confide in your friends about your concerns (you’ll find the other person will often feel honoured that you chose to confide in them). You can even invite their feedback. Speaking with a friend or family member about tough issues can be a great way of sorting them out and also bring you closer.

Show interest in your friend’s life

When you show interest and support in your friend’s life, they’re more likely to do the same for you.

Don’t set expectations

Hanging out or socializing doesn’t have to have an objective or goal – beyond simply allowing you an opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself. Focus on the experience of just being with others without worrying about whether or not you are accomplishing anything.

Give yourself permission to laugh

Often, when we’re not feeling 100%, we feel like we’re not allowed to enjoy ourselves when we’re around others.  No one is telling you that you have to “play the sick role” – let yourself relax, play, have fun, and laugh. Don’t feel guilty about having fun or laughing.

 

Watch Aidan’s Tip Video: Social Life and Laughter.

Trouble making new connections?

It can be hard to make new friends as an adult, especially when you feel weighed down by depression. But there are lots of ways to meet people. Here are some tips to help get you out meeting new people.

Start with places where you feel comfortable

It could be a coffee shop, a store you like to browse, a neighbourhood pub, or the gym – The point here is to put yourself in places where you feel comfortable and thus more confident in striking up a conversation.

Explore your interests

No matter what your interests are, there’s bound to be a group, an event, a team, or club with others who share those interests. Meetup groups are another good way to find people with similar interests in your area.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to get you out of the house and do something meaningful and interesting in an environment where people appreciate even the smallest amount of your time.

Think of conversation starters

If you have a hard time getting the ball rolling when you meet someone, think of possible conversation starters and follow-up questions in advance (sports, current events, music – depending on setting) to get a conversation going. An easy way to start a conversation is to ask someone what brought them to wherever you both are.

Walk a dog

Not only will taking a dog for a walk help you get active, it’s a great way to meet other people.  Even if you don’t have a dog, ask a friend if you could take theirs for a walk.

Reignite old friendships

Sometimes old friends can become new friends. If there are friends from your past that you enjoyed but have lost contact with, consider re-connecting with them. Social media can be helpful in reaching out to old friends.

Using social media

Social media has become a part of everyday life for many people. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, discussion forums, and other online platforms can all be good ways to engage with others, but it’s also important to be aware of their limitations.

Social media can allow you to connect

If you use social media, take advantage of what social media is meant for: staying connected with your friends and family, and perhaps expanding your social circle.

Don’t make comparisons

Most people tend to post more about “good stuff,” making it seem like their lives are full of fun, excitement, and adventure, but these posts don’t necessarily reflect the realities of real, everyday life. Avoid getting sucked into thinking that everyone else’s lives are free of challenges and disappointments – it’s just not the case.

Don’t use social media to replace face-to-face interaction

While social media can be useful, don’t let it be your only social outlet. Face-to-face interaction is the most important part of a man’s social life, so use social media to supplement it rather than replace it.

Maintaining a healthy social network

Your social connections are an important part of your life, and you can’t take them for granted.

Maintaining vibrant and meaningful relationships requires time, effort, and a genuine interest in the other person. Here are some tips to keep in mind for making the most of your social connections.

Focus on quality

The key to a meaningful social network is the quality of your relationships, and not the number of friends you have.

Surround yourself with positive people

Focus on people that are positive influences on your life. Laughter and positivity are infectious, so make sure your relationships have healthy doses of these.

Support others

Take time to listen and be there for your friends, like you would want for yourself.

Show initiative

You can’t always rely on others to sustain your social life. Make sure to do your part in initiating contact and activities with friends and family – they will appreciate your effort.

Create a list of different activities

Having a list of activities that you can do with others inside and outside can be helpful for planning or making the most of unexpected breaks in your schedule (example: create a list of hobbies).

Schedule regular activities

Organizing some routine activities can help take the stress out of having to figure out what you’re going to do each day. This could involve having friends over for a weekly game or show night, or signing up for a weekly sports activity.

Respect boundaries in relationships

Be mindful of asking too much of someone, or being overly involved in his or her life.

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