17 Small Ways to Deepen Your Connections

We know that moments of connection with others can make us feel good –– but as it turns out, research shows that bonding with the people around us can increase our happiness, boost our productivity, and even improve our mental health. And with Mental Health Awareness Month beginning on May 1st, we’re taking this opportunity to prioritize our relationships and deepen our bonds with loved ones, friends, and co-workers.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the small ways they deepen their connections, and how doing so helps boost their well-being. Which of these ideas will you try?

Write a handwritten note

“I like to deepen my connections with handwritten cards for my friends and family. Words are my love language, and I enjoy the process of picking a card that’s perfect for them and writing a personalized note inside. I always try to include a funny or sentimental memory inside, along with encouraging words to remind them how amazing they are. The intentional act of finding and crafting a handwritten letter is a small, yet meaningful way to show I care.”  

—Tianna Soto, journalist and keynote speaker, New York, NY

Invite your neighbors over for a get-together

“Over the last few years, we have had many new neighbors move into our neighborhood who have confided in me how hard it has been to meet people and how isolated they’ve felt. Having felt lonely at times in my life, I am sensitive to that feeling in others, and I genuinely love making connections. I have been intentional about taking walks with neighbors, inviting them over for dinner, or throwing neighborhood get-togethers outside by our firepit overlooking our lake. I have learned that when I am feeling lonely, the best way to remedy that is to reach out to someone else who may be feeling the same.”

—April Likins, stress coach, VA

Make an introduction between two friends 

“To strengthen connections, I like to make introductions. Once I meet someone who shares her goals, passions, or experiences, I connect her to someone else in my network who may have similar ambitions, directions, or interests. The social capital exchange deepens our connection because it demonstrates that I truly listened and genuinely care about the individual’s future. Every opportunity is one introduction away!”

—Stacy Cassio, CEO, Charlotte, NC

Send an impromptu voice note

“I’ve found great joy in exchanging voice notes. Especially in a time of packed schedules, connecting in real time can be challenging. Leaving a voice note allows the person to experience the warmth of your voice, inflection, humor, and love and respond at a time convenient for them.  I rarely can talk with my sister live, but exchanging voice texts feels as though she’s right there. We’re in an ongoing conversation that never stops, and it’s wonderful.”

—Katie Sandoe, entrepreneur and educator, Lancaster, PA

Invite a friend over for a home cooked meal

“I love spending quality time with the people I care about, and I’ll invite them over and cook some of their favorite food. I also make a conscious effort to tell them something specific that I really appreciate about them, something that tends to be unique about them. I find these little acts of appreciation really tend to deepen our connection.”

—Bianca Riemer, team coach, London, UK

Call someone haven’t spoken to in a while

“One way I maintain strong bonds is by picking up the phone and calling people. Social media is good for giving snippets of a person’s life, but it doesn’t replace a valuable conversation that allows you to hear their voice and go beyond what they have shared publicly.”

—Jonathan Vassallo, FAM Founder, ON, Canada

Send your friend a funny message

“Those in my inner circle ultimately get the most and best of me, and that looks like intentionally calling, FaceTiming, and texting daily with healthy doses of humor. A solid banter or a meme exchange always adds a boost of dopamine and a smile for days.”

—Joshua Miller, master certified executive coach, Austin TX

Check in regularly 

“I have a best friend who lives in Chicago. We’ve probably known each other for over fourteen years. We’ve often called each other ‘Thelma & Louise,’ — and though there are miles between us, it hardly seems like there are any. We always send each other memes and messages, and when hard times come, we can trust each other. I strengthen the bond of friendship by always checking in to see if they are doing okay, and we track each other’s flights when traveling to make sure they land safely. We’ve been through many life challenges, but we always have each other’s back.”

—Elaine Hamilton, author and life coach, Santa Fe, NM  

Bring flowers from your garden to a neighbor

“I love spending most of my free time in the garden. I share my flowers and cuttings from my plants with my neighbors, community, and friends. It appears to bring joy and happiness to those around me, as well as myself!” 

—Deborah Morrison, retired corpora controller, Baja CA, MX

Send a “thinking of you” message

“When I think of someone and wonder how they’re doing, I drop them a line right then — just a quick text or message on Facebook, LinkedIn, or something else. It might just be a ‘what’s up,’ or a gif saying ‘you rock.’ It takes less than a minute and helps them see that they’re on my mind. They almost always write back right away. It helps keep bonds strong and free of any sense of transaction.”

—Josh Levs consultant and author, Atlanta, GA

Create texting groups to stay in touch

“One small way I continue to deepen my connections with people is to stay in contact via WhatApp personally and via groups. I have been so intentional in every friendship circle I have been a part of for the past twenty years, from college, grad school, or church, about forming groups to ensure we can stay in touch. Every week, I send a greeting inquiring about their status and sending love to them and their families.”

—Dr. Nadine Collins, speaker, women’s leadership expert and empowerment coach and author, Atlanta, GA 

Send photo updates of your life to loved ones

“I love sending along photo snippets of daily life! My 84-year-old mom lives in another state and does not use social media much. In addition to regularly calling her, I started texting her photos of her great grandchild who lives nearby — typically one or two a day.  She says there is nothing that brightens her day more than receiving these. The snippets I share are not the ‘perfect’ frame-worthy images, but rather the real-life imperfect moments that actually capture life better.”

—Marijke McCandless, mindfulness coach, Las Vegas, NV

Pay attention to small details

“I try to remember small details about my friends. Remembering small details about someone’s life, such as their favorite color or hobby, shows that we care about them and are interested in their life. Remembering things about someone also helps us to build a deeper understanding of them and their experiences. This helps create a more meaningful and lasting connection. Remembering things shows that we are invested in the relationship, care about the other person, and want to build a deeper connection with them.”

—John McCartney, APR, public relations professional, Los Angeles, CA

Schedule your connections in your calendar

“I use my weekly planner to stay on track with prioritizing my connections. I have a space in my planner called ‘connections.’ Each Sunday, when I sit down to map out my week, I write down who I will connect with and how I will do that. It may be giving my family members extra attention throughout the week, meeting up with a friend for coffee, dropping off something thoughtful to a loved one, or sometimes it’s deepening the connections with people I come in contact with in my business. This helps me stay in touch with the many wonderful people I feel grateful to have in my life.”

—Emily Madill, author and certified professional coach (ACC), Nanaimo, B.C., Canada

Attend a local event

“Being a single female whose family lives in another state, I deepen my connections by attending non-profit fundraising events. By doing so, I get to see friends I usually haven’t seen in a long time. I connect with the friends at my table and I meet new people, all the while, supporting my favorite non-profit. By the end of the event I have made several new and old connections.”

—Gerry J. Tucker, author and consultant, Austin, TX

Stay present when you’re with others

“Before interacting with others, I repeat my favorite quote from Maya Angelou: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ This wisdom helps me shift to the present moment. It encourages me to fully see, hear, and appreciate the person I am trying to start or continue a meaningful connection with, and it has deepened my relationships.”

—Shea Ki, career momentum coach, Ashburn, VA 

Ask meaningful questions

“One of the things that I do when catching up with a friend is ensure phones are away and not in sight. It gives us both our undivided attention and also shows we’re making intentional effort to be present with one another. I try to ask meaningful questions, like what they’re working to let go of, or what they’re looking forward to. These questions, for me, give me deeper insights and create more depth in our conversation which allows us to deepen the connection in the relationship.”

—Lisa De Nicola, coach and corporate consultant, Toronto, Ontario