Why social networks matter

A social network can be a circle of friends, people you share a hobby with or extended family. The form your social network takes doesn’t matter. What’s important is how it makes your life better.

Time to read: 4 minutes


Why social networks matter

People who have strong social networks manage stressful situations more effectively, are physically healthier and live longer. This is because connecting with other people can help you:

  • Feel understood and cared for
  • Feel as if you are not alone
  • Build confidence
  • Handle your problems more easily, and
  • Can access good advice when facing difficult situations.

There are many ways to connect with other people, and different people and relationships can provide you with different kinds of support. There may even be people available for a connection you have not thought of. 


Ben’s story...

I had been in the ADF from straight out of school, so joining a community on my own wasn't something I'd ever done before. Trying to find mates in the civilian world when you've been in the military for a long time is difficult. Having to engage with people socially in a different environment, essentially in a different language, is very tough. It's a very steep learning curve. But it's worth the effort. Having mates changes everything ...

Read Ben's story here

How to build your social network

A social network can include your friends, family or co-workers.

You’re probably part of a social network already, even if you don’t think you are.

Start thinking about your social network by recognising the social connections you have in your family and community, as well as your friends, especially other veterans. The more you understand people in your network, the easier it is to plan activities and expand the network.

What if you don’t have a social network?

If you’re not part of a social network, that’s OK. It’s never too late to start building one.


Build Social Connections to reduce loneliness

Use the Social Connections tool to identify the people in your life who you can spend more time with and who can offer you different kinds of support. Focus on spending more time with those closest to you. Over time, you can work on building a wider support network by reaching out to people who you don't see as often or have lost contact 

The Social Connection tool is also available on the High Res app to use on the go.

Building new networks: learn to say 'YES!'

In addition to working on old networks, plan some activities to make new social connections.

Look for opportunities to get involved with others and say "yes" when the opportunity arises (even if it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable). The more time you spend with people, the easier it will be to develop friendships and become a friend of their friends.

Meeting people and 'doing small talk' is a skill. Like any skill, practice makes perfect.

The more people you meet, the more networks you can become part of. And the easier it will get to start conversations and engage meaningfully.

If you find yourself alone, learn to enjoy yourself and feel comfortable in your own company. If you can enjoy and value your own company, there’s a good chance others will too.


Reduce loneliness through Enjoyable and Rewarding Activities

Connecting with others might be hard at first, but doing it through enjoyable and rewarding activities will make it easier. Shared activities give you something to talk about and can introduce you to new social networks.

Use the Enjoyable and Rewarding Activities tool to identify activities and plan how to engage in them. Choose activities that will help you connect with others.

You can use this tool to help plan and build connections with others. Or, once you have already started, you can also use it whenever you get stuck for ideas for activities.

Find local activities and support where you live

ENGAGE is an online portal that current, transitioning, and former ADF members; their families can use to locate support services and activities near where you live. Check out ENGAGE to find physical fitness, exercise and active lifestyle options.