Get talking to people and feel better

Carole Baker
Carole Baker

The first National Conversation Week launches on March 6 and aims to encourage more conversations in both our personal and professional lives.

Whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and relatives, updating a colleague at work or trying to find the best insurance deal, we’re all guilty of defaulting to hiding behind a screen to send a quick text, fire off an email, post a social media message or search online, rather than taking the time to actually speak with somebody.

While there’s a place for digital communication, the benefit of face-to-face conversation shouldn’t be lost altogether. So, this week, apparently is about encouraging business and individuals to consider putting the smartphone or iPad aside and opt for human interaction, rather than the digital alternative. So says their website!

We are told that we are more connected than ever before but many people feel more alone than they ever have. If you can boast so many hundred friends on social media, how many of those could you actually drop by and see for a chat or meet for a coffee, or at the very least pick up the phone and have a conversation with?

Talking face to face is what us humans do and I do believe we are becoming less and less able to do this. I watched “I Daniel Blake” this week and was horrified, like many viewers, as to how someone in such desperate need of help couldn’t manage to get what he needed due to the system of hoops and online procedures he had to undergo, when actually a conversation with a caring person who could deal with him as an individual and not a number would have saved him.

We know that in our elderly communities lack of social interaction can cause depression and a host of other illnesses. We know when loved ones work away or if we break up with a partner, how we miss the face-to-face conversation more than anything and the online or phone stuff just isn’t the same.

What happened to our ability to check up on our neighbours or friends and interact face to face? Ironically, while browsing a social media newsfeed the other evening, I spotted a post where local nursery schoolchildren in Bristol were visiting an old people’s home weekly to chat, play and interact with each other and it was so wonderful to see the benefits for both generations.

One of the easiest ways to get out and meet people and chat is to join a local gym or even better (I would say this) a yoga class. To a certain extent a gym is often full of people staring at TV screens, or with headphones plugged in, but you do find the occasional person who remembers the art of conversation.

However, in a yoga class we don’t use TVs, headphones or loud music to kill conversation – the teacher actually talks to you, knows your name, understands a little about your physical and emotional health and maybe even your life in general and genuinely wants you to talk back to them about how you feel. If you don’t know anyone when you arrive you soon strike up a conversation waiting for the class to start, or after it finishes as you all wind your merry way home.

I have been known in a very quiet and reserved group of yoga students to pair them up and do partner work in certain yoga poses and even though from a teacher’s perspective the peace and tranquillity is somewhat disturbed, the change in the energy in the room after people have chatted among themselves is palpable.

So if you are out on your own this weekend, walking, travelling on public transport, shopping, drinking coffee, etc, please make an effort to strike up a conversation with the person nearby, you just don’t know what you might discover and you might make yours and their day.

Oh, and check out your nearest Beginners’ Yoga Class and just make the move and book it!

-- Suggestions in this article are the personal opinion of the author. Please do not take any new remedies if you are currently on any medication without the consent of your GP.

-- For interesting articles on health and wellness, yoga classes, workshops and one-to-ones, visit www.carolebaker.co.uk

-- Carole Baker is a health & wellness adviser and yoga teacher