Social connection is more than a “flavor of the month” mantra. It is a key determinant of your health and well-being. We have been working on ways to keep people socially engaged since our founding. There are many aspects! Here’s your guide to social connection.

The top line.

If you’re finishing up your career or your kids have left home, you might be looking for some new social connections. It’s more about stage than age. So many of our close social ties are made at work and through school (our own and then our kids’). Replicating the experience of feeling close to others in those kinds of settings can take some planning and thought. We’re here to help our Members avoid what is sometimes referred to as the isolation epidemic by showing them they can experiment with opportunities–a socially engaging way to learn, earn, give back or maybe (someday) a group edutravel experience–so they can find the right balance and new groups of people to spend time with. 

Keeping our Members active, engaged and socially connected is the core of our mission. We started long before Covid-19 put the dangers of social isolation on physical and mental health on the front pages, but the pandemic has only deepened our purpose. 

The research.

We focus on social engagement because we have done the research. Healthy social relationships and strong social ties can be more important to wellness than genes, nutrition or fitness. A lack of social connectedness can be as detrimental to overall health as risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. 

The casual connections you can make quickly on social media are convenient, informative and entertaining, but what we’re after for our Members goes beyond the fleeting feeling of connecting for a moment and the dopamine rush that comes with a like or a click. Humans are social animals and we need to find close friends and tight social groups to feel truly close to others. 

Oxford University anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar has done the research, which showed that social relationships follow a pattern of layers, or  “Dunbar Layers,” as they are now often called.  Dunbar’s work indicates that people usually have up to five people in their closest circle and an additional ten in the circle beyond that. In total, social circles radiate outward starting with 5, 15, 50 and 150. 

The Amava approach.

Now more than ever, we’re focused on helping our Members fill the layers of social connectedness. We’re hoping you’re covered on the “5,” so we’re starting with the “15” with a brand new concept: Amava Circles. Join an Amava Circle and start connecting with others in weekly, guided sessions with a small group of other Amava Members who want to remain active and engaged. 

These days much of the human world is trying to create the experience of feeling connected. This is a great challenge for such a social species, but the good news is Amava is teaming up with smart, dedicated and energetic organizations to bring our Members socially engaging ways to learn, earn and give back and will be rolling out more ways for them to come together around their interests in our growing community. 

Specifically, we’re connecting our Members to remarkable virtual volunteering experiences with leading nonprofits to keep them talking to people and helping others and engaging with people through Amava Circles. When Members purchase credits on our site it supports our Virtual Volunteering Program.

How you can get started.

  • Start where you are. What are your interests, talents and skills? 
  • Communicate! Forget about that adage about not talking to strangers. Talk to everyone! Loose ties are often the source of new opportunities.
  • Try new things. Go on some local adventures, volunteer at an organization that interests you and mix it up with new people along the way.
  • Think About How You Earn Money. Maybe you’ve been working full-time all along, but now you can think about new options for flexibility, taking on more (or less) responsibility, the possibility of working from other locations (if you’re with a big company) or perhaps an industry shift. If you’re getting back into the workplace, you may be considering upskilling, networking or other ideas. Regardless of your goals, you have a new opportunity to assess what will work best for you. This could even be the season when you start your own business.
  • Find Volunteer Work that Matches Your Passions. It could be that your bake sale, PTA and youth sports coaching days are over (unless you really want to keep at those things, which some people do!). There is a whole world of volunteering and making a difference in your community beyond what you have done when there were children in your house.
  • Keep Learning. Welcome back to thinking about what you might like to learn. The possibilities are endless. Maybe it’s a new language, some new business skills or something in the arts or sports arena. Community college courses, apps, classes at community centers. Tip of the learning iceberg. Want something less formal? Did somebody say book club?
  • Consider Where You Want to Travel and What You Want to Do There. You may not be able to go yet, but you can plan for the future. Not all travel is the same. You can focus on edutravel, voluntourism or adventure travel. You can emphasize wellness, culture or whatever works for you. There are also plenty of ways to have new adventures without spending a fortune.
  • Put Your Health and Fitness Front and Center. You no longer have to choke down a dry protein bar while driving home from work to one of your child’s events. Your meals can be relaxing, enjoyable and artful. And your own fitness routine can finally take precedence. Your physical health can be a priority. So, join a walking club, take some classes, hunt down those specialty ingredients or try the recipes you want to eat. You deserve some self-care. Everyone does.
  • Find a Way to Nurture. Maybe you miss habitual nurturing. Don’t fret, love on your pet. Or someone else’s pet. Take care of plants, look out for your neighbors or feed that sourdough starter. All living things need tending!
  • Keep Your Connections. Just because you no longer find yourself by the side of a field bundled up in a blanket as you cheer on your child does not mean you have to say goodbye to the friends you huddled with. Family friends matter. We’re social animals. Make the effort and keep the band together. And meet some new people too!

We hope this guide to social connection has got you thinking. Reach out to us at member-services@amava.com anytime. We’re here to help.