Q&A with Dajana Tesevic, MSWA Counsellor

MSWA Counsellor Dajana Tesevic specialises in working with people living with neurological conditions.

She is also MSWA’s Coordinator of Health Education and Peer Support.

What does ‘connection’ mean to you?

For me personally, connection is about being able to relate to one another through a shared experience and understanding of the world we live in. Being connected gives me a deep sense of belonging, trust, vulnerability, and safety. Through forming different connections, I have been able to step outside my comfort zone and outside myself to explore what the world has to offer. 

Why is connection important to everyone?

We are inherently social beings, and we are biologically, cognitively, spiritually, and physically wired to love and to be loved.  

Significant research evidence shows that meaningful contact with other people and being part of a community can help significantly with our psychological wellbeing.

Why is connection important to people with a neurological condition?

Major lifestyle changes and personal losses associated with illness can have a significant effect on social connections and result in feelings of loneliness.

During difficult times in our lives, we have a natural impulse to reach out to others for support. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with people we trust, we form much stronger and deeper relationships.

What are the benefits of connecting with others?

  • Social connection reduces loneliness while providing a sense of belonging
  • Individuals who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression
  • Connection is linked to higher self-esteem and self-worth
  • It can help build on our trust and empathy towards others
  • Being connected helps boost your immune system
  • Connection has a positive impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing
  • Having caring and supportive relationships contributes to our resilience

How can someone find connection?

Reconnect with loved ones – Sometimes life gets in the way, but it is always important to reach out to people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while.

Take advantage of technology – Connecting through technology can be beneficial by allowing us to stay in touch with family and friends more easily. However, technology should be enhancing our connection to others, not replacing it. Human contact and interaction are much more valuable and cannot be replaced.

Try out a new activity – for example, a pottery or yoga class, going out in your local community, place of worship, walking class, poetry group, sports clubs.

Volunteering – being part of something bigger than ourselves gives a great sense of connection. It also gives us meaning and purpose.

Spirituality – When we talk about connecting, we usually think of connecting with other people. However, there are other ways of being in touch and connected that are also important: connecting with self and having quiet moments, connecting with nature or animals, connecting with one’s spiritual beliefs.

Pets – Animals are a great bridge to forming a connection. Meet up with others who walk their dog in your neighbourhood. 

Peer groups – Peer groups are a great way to find connection with individuals who can relate to what you are going through. Many organisations across Australia offer social programs and services for all age groups. Reach out to your state or territory’s MS organisation and ask about their peer groups.

Counselling – group or individual counselling can help with building on existing relationship skills, and it can help improve your communication and emotional connectedness. Sometimes the prospect of meeting new people can seem overwhelming – this is especially the case if you are experiencing anxiety and depression – and counselling can provide a safe space.  

What’s the best way to get started?

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

We all live such busy lives and for some of us social connection can fall by the wayside. Prioritise time for social connection by making an active choice to spend time with people who make you feel supported and loved.

Our need for human connection does not mean that we all need to be social butterflies. Having connection can look different for everyone – what matters is that it has meaning for you.

This is a rare time in history where people all around the world from different cultures, languages, social economic groups are experiencing the same thing together.

Remember, you are not alone.

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