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The Healing Power of Connection - Social Rest

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

We spend our days planning, organizing, and scheduling everything that "has to" get done. We track our kid's schedules, schoolwork, sporting events, and friend time. We plan family meals, grocery shop, finish the laundry, make the doctor's appointments, feed the dog, and on and on—is it any wonder we're exhausted at the end of the week?

Our lives are such a blur that we're lucky if we can connect with our spouse for a few meaningful minutes each day. Even more challenging is being intentional about spending time with friends.

The faster our lives become, the busier we are, the more we need the healing power of connection—what Dr. Dalton Smith refers to as Social Rest.

When I first heard the term 'Social Rest,' I immediately thought it meant time away from people. And although I do need time alone to unwind and reflect on life; and feel rejuvenated, doing so is meeting my emotional needs.

Social Rest is different; it occurs when we find comfort in our relationships and social interactions. It is the ability to find solace in another.

In her book Sacred Rest, Dalton Smith defines SOCIAL REST as the wisdom to recognize relationships that revive from ones that exhaust and to limit our exposure to toxic people.

She emphasizes how the QUALITY of our social connections is significantly more important than Quantity.

As has been evident through the pandemic, a lack of quality social interaction will lead to loneliness and isolation. We are social creatures wired for human connection.

During a challenging time in my life, some of my friends came together and celebrated my birthday with a girl's night away. They secured a house by the beach, and we spent 24 blissful hours together. We could have been anywhere; everyone was content to sit in the living room and talk; we did not need the internet, tv, games, or any other form of entertainment; we only needed our voices. We broke only to walk to a local restaurant where we sat, ate, and talked some more.

The conversation was rich, deep, and restful.

That night we bonded together by listening, laughing, and loving each other. We were encouraged through the interactions that brought clarity and joy to our lives. This sense of belonging and purpose boosted my self-confidence and self-worth; it granted me exactly what I needed—I found Social Rest.

That night I sat among my tribe. They helped me cope with the hurt, and the pain life had brought.

We all need friends who can provide support and encouragement, not just in the "bad" times. The continual practice of finding social rest is essential.

As I think back to the beautiful people in that room, I realize that each friend supported me in different ways.

There was the friend I turn to in an emergency who is always there to encourage, guide, and support me, the friend that can relate to the challenges and emotions I face, and the friend that provides a new perspective and helps me examine my point of view.

All of these qualities in a friend are amplified by being face to face. Nothing can replace seeing their eyes light up, the sound of their laughter, or their warm embrace.

Social Rest reconnects us to the rewarding, uplifting exchanges we crave. Each small interaction replenishes our social deficit, boosts our morale, improves our well-being, and fights against isolation.

Social rest not only fights against isolation, but research has shown that people with strong relationships live longer, cope better with stress, and are overall happier and healthier.

A study at Stanford University of over 300,000 people showed that a lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death by 50%. The mortality risk is greater than obesity and similar to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!

I had to stop and think about this — Social Rest Can Impact How Long I Live - WOW!

The study also revealed that strong social relationships STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM and help you recover from disease faster. The statistics are undeniable.

Social Rest is not just a good suggestion; it is essential to a long, healthy, happy life!

Are you lacking in Social Rest?

Do you feel...

• Invisible?

• Alone in the world?

• Detached from family and friends?

• Attracted to people who mistreat you or are abusive towards you?

• It is hard to maintain close relationships or make friends?

• Isolated from others?

• it is easier to connect with others online instead of face-to-face relationships?

Where can you find SOCIAL REST?

Remember, social rest is finding comfort and solace in your relationships.

Think of people in your life who:

• Listen, make you feel safe, validated, and appreciated.

• Understand you, know you, and never judge or criticize you.

• Leave you feeling uplifted, encouraged, and supported.

Identify the friends that:

• You can turn to in an emergency

• Understand the challenges you face as a parent

• Give you perspective

Sometimes we get lucky, and one person can meet all of the above criteria. Those are terrific friends to have around. Other times we may need to turn to specific people for different needs. The important thing is to prioritize these relationships and continue nurturing and strengthening the bond.

Cultivate and deepen these friendships by:

• Creating time in our schedules to meet friends face-to-face.

• Listening and being supportive.

• Being open and honest about your life

• Expressing appreciation and gratitude

• Having fun together

• Creating memories together

• Offering kindness

• ASKING for HELP when you need it

The added bonus of practicing Social Rest is that it makes us better parents. When we are connected to constructive, supportive relationships, we have less stress, more energy, and we are happier.

Who doesn't want to be in a home with happy, relaxed parents?

The more we grow in our ability to prioritize our social rest, the more available, calm, and present we can be for our kids.

What will you do this week to find SOCIAL REST? Who will you connect with? Let us know in the comments.

We would love to hear from you.


Vicky & Coco

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