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Mental Health

What Does It Mean To Be Connected?

What Does It Mean To Be Connected?

Plus' resident therapist asks how connected to others do you feel at this point in your life? 

Here’s a word to think about: Connect. 

And a question: What are the connections you value in your life? 

The purpose of this article is to encourage and inspire you. If I can accomplish that task even just a little bit, I will be encouraged and inspired myself.

We often hear about the word “connect.” It’s used from a whole range of perspectives. I am going to discuss some of the ways this word is used, and in the process give you some ideas about you can feel more connected. Here’s a hint: Body, mind, spirit. 

So first, another question: How connected do you feel at this point in your life? And if you do feel connected, what are the ways in which you are connected? What’s most important to you? Also, did the connections you have made in your life come naturally to you, or have you had to work to achieve them? 

The good news is that you can take action to build stronger connections.

You have the power.

Being connected helps you to feel like you are part of something greater than your own day-to-day experience of life. Connection enhances your emotional and physical and spiritual wellness. Peace of mind. All that much more important if you are living with HIV. 

Ready to take a look at getting more connected? Here goes: 

Connect with yourself. Stay in touch with how you’re feeling emotionally. Feelings are just feelings. Hold them in and you give them more power. Stay aware of your thoughts, decide to focus on positive thoughts and dismiss negative ones. You don’t have to chase a negative thought down the rabbit hole. And monitor your physical health, do what you need to do to stay healthy. In other words: Pay attention to yourself, your emotions, your rational mind, your physical being.

Connect with your loved ones. Carve out quality time with friends and family members, no matter how busy you think you are. Be there for them and let them be there for you. Talk about what’s on your mind. Listen and be a good listener in return. Stay supported. After all, we’re all in this together.

Connect with your healthcare providers. Get regular check-ups. Stay adherent to your medication regimen, and on top of your self-care regimen. And if you can’t, let your doctor know. Keep the communication open. Transparency builds trust. Ask questions. Do your research and educate you’re the healthcare professionals you are working with on what you learn. Team up with your healthcare team. 

Connect with others on the same road.  You know, birds of a feather. Find people who have shared interests. Shared challenges. Shared medical diagnoses. Nobody can provide you better support than people who are traveling along beside you. Are you staying connected with the HIV community? Let’s support each other and grow together.  

Connect with your community.

By community, I mean your neighborhood, your school district, your town, your state. There’s a whole world around you that can benefit from your energy and involvement. Get involved with the people around you. Volunteer. Go to meetings.  See where you can lend a hand toward the greater good. Everybody benefits when community members take the time to give back. Be an advocate!. 

Connect with your workplace. Get to know the people you work with. Get on committees. Work on better communication with your co-workers and your boss. Make an effort to stay positive at work, to show willingness to do what it takes to get the job done and a commitment to the goals of your team. Taking the extra steps to be more fully connected at work benefits you in multiple ways. You’ll feel that much better about getting up and going to work in the morning, as well as doing what it takes to get through a difficult day, or a day when you’re not feeling so great. And this can also positively impact your success. 

Connect with your spirituality. However you define it. You may be part of a religious tradition and attend services regularly. In fact, some of my clients living with HIV have found that reconnecting with the religious practices of their childhood has been helpful in coping with the health challenges they are facing. If you are not part of an organized religion, you can find other ways to experience your spirituality. Meditation. Reading inspired writing. Going for a walk in nature. Lending someone a helping hand. These can all be spiritual experiences. 

Why get connected? Please forgive me for using an overused word here, but creating connections in your life has a major benefit: Being more grounded. And that means readier than ever to face the curveballs that life may throw your way. 


Gary McClain, PhD, is a therapist, patient advocate, and author in New York City, who specializes in working with individuals diagnosed with chronic and catastrophic medical conditions, their caregivers, and professionals. He maintains a website,




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