Three steps to a morning connections routine

Those first few beginning moments of the day truly set the tone for how the rest of the day is going to flow. We've all been there - those crazy mornings when the alarm fails to go off, and the dog has peed on the kitchen floor, and the car battery is dead, and all we want to do is crawl back in bed alone and hit re-start on the day (or on our lives!). But we probably have also had those incredible mornings where everything just seems to click into place - it's easy to wake before the sun rises, breakfast miraculously appears on the stove, and the kids beg to leave for school early (ok that last bit may be a stretch). Those mornings fuel us for positive, productive days. And the truth is, we have more control over that outcome than we might think.

Morning minutes are precious. We never seem to have enough, and they always seem to pop up earlier and earlier (who can honestly say they want to wake up at 4:30am?!). But study after study show that cultivating a morning routine for those first 30 minutes of your day can dramatically bring more calmness and structure to your entire day - and we think that by focusing a few of those minutes on connectedness, you can also bring drastically more social wellness into your life as well.

Morning routines can certainly vary, but all are grounded in their repetitive, meditative nature. Great thinkers and doers throughout time have had their own versions of morning routines - some rising absurdly early, some plunging their feet in ice water, many journaling, most writing lists of one sort of another. These routines have brought focus and clarity to their lives, and can do the same for yours. But as this is our Year of Connectedness, we also want your routine to help lessen loneliness, and bring connections and relationships to yours. 

What if YOUR morning routine could help you feel less lonely, and more connected, every single day? We think it can.

Your routine is completely yours, and the most important element is to create a plan that you love, and that works for your life. 30 minutes is more than plenty. The important thing is that you carve out time specifically in there to focus on the people in your life who are meaningful to you, or with whom you would like to build more meaningful connections. Here is an example of what could be done in those 30 extra-focused, purposeful minutes, but the important thing is that you craft that time to meet YOUR needs.

7:00 - Wake up

7:05 - Stretch, breathe, or meditate

7:10 - Coffee, tea, or orange juice for all


7:35 - Slowly move into your day

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Starting your day thinking about your relationships is a way to center your energy on maintaining close emotional ties. Just 15 minutes focused on reaching out can drastically help curb the feelings of loneliness while strengthening and solidifying our meaningful relationships. So, during those daily morning minutes, we recommend accomplishing the following tasks:

  1. Think about one person who you feel especially close to now, and reach out with a quick text or call to say hi and let them know how much they mean to you. This can be really short - but it works to strengthen the connection of already existing relationships.
  2. Reach out to one 'distant' friend to just check in and say hello. This can be a friend from childhood that you have lost contact with, or a more recent friendship that has just taken a seat on the 'back burner'. Say hi. Let them know that you are thinking about them.
  3. Finally, make a plan for an upcoming relational activity. This can be a movie date with friends, an afternoon of volunteering in your community, a night out with your significant other, a walk around the block with your neighbors, a game of pick-up flag football - anything that lets you connect with others in a meaningful way. THESE REAL-LIFE CONNECTIONS ARE SUPER IMPORTANT to lessening loneliness - so please don't just stop after sending the first two texts ;) 

That's it! No more than 10 to 15 minutes of your new morning routine of focused energy on your social health can do wonders for lessening your overall feelings of loneliness, and hopefully will strengthen the meaningful relationships that are important to you.

The sound of the alarm clock does not have to be the worst moment of your day - instead, focusing for just a few minutes on your own social wellness before the chaos of the day starts can truly be a beginning to look forward to!

The beginning is often the hardest part

If there is one thing nearly everyone can agree on, it's that beginnings are almost always tough. Big beginnings, like moving to new cities. Or small beginnings, like choosing to walk to work instead of taking the bus. No matter how exciting the new beginning might be, or how much we planned and prepped for it, starting afresh gives most people some sense of dread. Will I do it correctly? Will I have enough energy to make this change stick? Will people support me in this new venture? Am I making the right decision in the first place?

The start of a new year often brings about these feelings. While New Year's Eve can be filled with parties and cocktails and grand plans for the upcoming year, settling into January can feel heavy with the weighted 'what ifs'. What if I can't do all the things I want to do this year? What if I fail? What if I never have the energy to start?

We totally understand this fear. We have also made grand plans for 2018, and are starting to wonder if we can really bite off all the wonderful things we want to 'chew'. It's daunting, this creating-a-life thing. But tucked behind all the anxieties around making a new year happen is the silent reminder - we are not in this alone. And neither are you.

We have named 2018 our Year of Connectedness, and are so excited to have you join us in this journey toward more passion, more purpose, and more connections. But we know that for a lot of us, this will require some big changes. And those big changes can feel scary - particulary if you haven't felt especially passionate or purposeful or connected in quite a while. Just know - we hear you. And we understand.

January is a great time to start new things, as the slate feels somewhat clean. So we urge you to hop on board with us now with some baby steps in moving toward a 2018 that feels meaningful and deeply connected - and you have us a resource for every step along the way. This month we are going to focus on what you can do right now to take a couple of those very first beginning steps - not too big, not too scary, but just right to help quell some of the loneliness feelings and begin to build a foundation for a happier 2018.

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Perhaps the easiest beginning for this journey towards a lessened sense of loneliness is just to take stock of where you are, what you have, and what you want. No massive changes to any lifestyle yet (that's what February is for, right??) - instead, just take a few minutes and truly ask yourself a few questions:

  • How are my relationships feeling these days?
  • How many close friends do I have right now?
  • How do I feel about the quality of these friendships? The quantity of these friendships?
  • How many close friends would feel good to me?
  • What would we do together that would feel good to me?

That's it right now! All you have to do right now is step one - just think about these few questions (and you don't have to do it perfectly, so don't let that fear stop you!). Loneliness often sets in when what we have, and what we want, do not align. But the only way to KNOW if that is happening is to think honestly about what we currently have, and what we would currently WANT to have. Today, we challenge you to think openly about what the current state of the connections in your life looks and feels like, and then to imagine what a world would look like for you that felt even MORE connected, if that is something you would like.

The beginning is often the hardest part. And this beginning exercise is deceptively simple - but it can be hard to be honest with ourselves. There is no shame in wanting more connections in our lives - for it is these very connections that make us our best human selves. Relationships let us laugh, and share, and grow, and stretch. We need these desperately - so do not beat yourself up if you want more connections than you currently have. That does not make you anything other than human ;)

2018 will allow for all sorts of self-exploration. Hopefully it will bring you a deeper awareness of what you need, and hopefully it will draw you closer to old, and new, friends. But today is only January 10th. So let's start at the very beginning, and just begin by understanding where we are today, and to start imagining where we could be that would feel even less lonely as the year moves forward. We will be right here with you - giving you ideas, connecting you with organizations, and sharing inspirational stories with you - one new beginning at a time.

Day 12 - Resolution: Commit to 2018 as the Year of Connectedness

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Welcome to 2018 - what we here at The Cost of Loneliness Project are calling the Year of Connectedness! We are ready for a 2018 full of meaningful moments and deep connections, and are so excited to have you join us in this journey!

If you've been with us for the past 12 days, perhaps you have tried a few of our ideas to build and deepen your connections with friends and loved ones. Maybe you reached out to a neighbor, or updated a family recipe with your children. Perhaps you spent an afternoon hiking in your backyard, or made plans for a new December tradition. Or maybe you didn't have time for any of these things (we get THAT too!) - but are excited for the possibilities for connectedness in 2018. No matter where you were - we are here now - and so thrilled to have you as part of our family here at The Cost of Loneliness Project!

We have big plans for 2018. From road trips to explore the realities of loneliness in America today, to symposia to bring people together to think about possible solutions, we are excited for big adventures and even bigger learning. Most importantly, we are excited to share it all with YOU - and hopefully, to help make 2018 a year of connections and possibilities and much less loneliness. So please join us here (and also in person!) throughout the year - sharing with us your ideas and experiences as we share with you stories, celebrations, and ideas to make 2018 your most connected year yet!

So today's idea is an easy one. As many of us are making our own New Year resolutions, we challenge you to commit to connectedness. To resolve to make relationships a priority - to reach out when you are sad, to say hello to people you cross paths with, and to prioritize meaningful moments with the people in your life. Loneliness is real - and can have profound physical and mental impacts on our lives. Let one of your resolutions this year help alleviate some of this loneliness by focusing on actively building connectedness. Fear not -- you are not alone - we are here to help you all the way!

Click below for your own Resolution Commitment - sign on the line, and then post this in a conspicuous place so you can be reminded daily of your desire to help alleviate loneliness by connecting with others. We will be doing the same over here - together, we can all work to make 2018 the Year of Connectedness for everyone! Happy New Year all!

Day 11 - Get away from it all in the great outdoors


Happy last day of 2017! For many people, 2017 was a challenging year - full of ups and downs and all the moments in between. We all celebrated some things together, and we all mourned others alone. Hopefully, your year was full of more wonderfully connected moments than non-wonderful ones, but no matter what, hopefully you are looking forward to all the adventures of 2018 yet to come. Today, we challenge you to take a 15 minute mini-adventure of your own, and step outside to get away from it all in the beauty of nature.

In our ever-hustling lives, we challenge you today to simply slow down. To pull on your boots and step outside. To breathe deeply. To enjoy the silence that can only be found in the middle of nature. To soak up the beauty of our natural world - take a hike, go camping and watch the stars, make snow angels with your grandchildren, build a bonfire on the beach and count the waves. There are few moments in life that remind us of the interconnectedness of it all like observing the world spin exactly as it was destined to do. In so many ways, we are reminded that we are all in this crazy life together. Sometimes disconnected, but never alone.

Give yourself 15 minutes to just get away from it all today in the great outdoors. Let your mind wander. Maybe think back to last week when you jotted down all the moments you felt most connected in 2017. Let those wonderful memories fill you. Maybe start thinking about your 2018 resolutions, and how you might want them somehow to include more connected moments with friends and loved ones. Or maybe just be still, and soak up every minute of the calm. It's your 15 minutes to feel connected to the earth, and to yourself. It's your 15 minutes to get ready for the next wonderfully connected year to come.

Wishing you the most wonderful New Years Eve celebrations - and come back tomorrow for our final day of the 12 Days of Connectedness to join us in committing together to truly make 2018 the Year of Connectedness. Happy New Year, everyone!

Day 10 - Volunteer with a cause in your community


"Deep human connection is the purpose, and the result, of a meaningful life - and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity, and humanity." Melinda Gates

Often times, loneliness can creep up on us. When we least expect it, we find ourselves longing for connections we cannot find. Today, we challenge you to think about building those connections while serving others in your community. It can be as simple as walking lonely dogs at your local animal shelter (pet therapy is a real plus!), or as involved as an ongoing weekly shift at your community hospital. Whatever or wherever you choose, know your positive energy helps everyone (including your self) quiet the loneliness.

There are many options for volunteering in your community - whatever you are passionate about, you can find an agency or organization who works to assist that cause. You can volunteer with friends to work together to build houses with Women Build for Habitat for Humanity, assist in local or national disaster relief with the American Red Cross, cuddle abandoned cats at a local animal shelter, serve meals to those that are hungry at a local food pantry, or get outdoors and volunteer on the trails with the national parks. Wherever you serve, connecting with others while working to make your community stronger is a wonderful way to help ease everyones loneliness.

Love the idea of volunteering more regularly? Why not have one of your 2018 'resolutions' center around finding an ongoing volunteer opportunity! Your community organization will be ecstatic to have your time on a regular basis, and the friendships you may make just might help make your Year of Connectedness even stronger! 

Please let us know where you are volunteering - we are so excited to see all the positive energy you are putting in your communities!