HomeLifeHow to stay socially connected on the cheap

How to stay socially connected on the cheap

Surging living costs mean many are going to find things tight this spring and summer – and spending on socialising might drop to the bottom of the priority list.

But keeping socially connected is hugely important for our health and wellbeing. As Simone Thomas, founder of Simone Thomas Wellness (simonethomaswellness.com), points out, staying home all the time “can further feelings of isolation and sadness”.

Bolstering connections and breaking up your routines can help you cope with worries about money and the future too – so how can you do this while spending relatively little or even no money at all? Here are some ideas.

Make the most of outdoor catch-ups

“You don’t need to spend a fortune to have a good time, simply make a coffee, take it out in a travel cup and meet friends in the park, on the beach or even on the football sidelines as your kids have a kick-about,” says Ms Thomas. “It’s the connection that is so important for us, but there’s nothing like that feel-good boost of catching up as you get some fresh air.”

Read: Three key steps to help you reconnect with friends

Check out community meal projects

Neighbourhood Facebook and WhatsApp groups, newspapers and noticeboards are good places to find community projects that are happening in your area. There might be something you can go along to with friends, or to spend time with new people.

Become a volunteer 

Volunteering in general can be a great way to flex those social muscles (as well as gaining other skills and rewards).

Volunteering is a great way to boost your wellbeing, reduce stress and broaden your support network by making new friends. Recent research found that there’s been a 400 per cent increase in google searches for ‘volunteering near me’ over the last 12 months.

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Get active

As sport and exercise psychologist Dr Josephine Perry (performanceinmind.co.uk) points out, sport has a huge social element.

“There are great psychological benefits for exercisers both in terms of performance and enjoyment by exercising with others. Joining in football, turning up on a Saturday morning at parkrun or joining in a group cycle ride are all free and give you a great way to connect with others. Exercising with others can improve your technique, and can be great for your mental health as it’s a pressure-free way to chat and listen and feel connected.”

Read: Study shows why super sitters need to review their inactivity

“It’s essential we continue to connect with others. Especially during a time where we could potentially have lots of worries or stresses,” adds Dr Perry, whose new book, The 10 Pillars Of Success, highlights ‘a sense of belonging’ as being key. “When we don’t feel like we belong, we risk loneliness, worse health, poor mental health and reduced opportunities. So the more we can focus on finding cost-effective ways to build our sense of belonging, the better equipped we are to come through the cost of living issues.”

Bring back nights in 

Nights in are one of the best ways to socialise with friends on a budget.

There are plenty of ways you could make things fun and keep costs low by all chipping in or taking turns. Some ideas to try include games nights, movie nights and dinner parties. You could start your own book club or wine-tasting nights. Try an at-home spa evening with manicures and face masks. You don’t need to attend an expensive spa when you can do the treatments yourself!

Read: Affordable picnic treats with a touch of luxe

Be a picnic pro

Two female friends having a picnic outdoors
Explore local beauty spots with friends. (Alamy/PA)

Picnics are great all year round but especially pleasant on a warm summer day. They are a wonderful low-cost way to see friends and enjoy a special evening.

Get everyone to bring a drink and a snack. If there’s still a chill in the air, a flask of tea, coffee or hot chocolate with some Baileys or other liqueur added make for a delicious and decadent hot drink. Essentially, use what you have in the cupboards at home. Food is optional depending on how much money you want to spend. To keep costs low, get everyone to bake something at home for a truly wholesome picnic.

What’s your favourite way to spend time with friends? How do you do it on a budget? Let us know in the comments section below.

– With PA

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