As bloggers, our minds and bodies are our most valuable and vital assets in our business. So it's important to keep them in good shape. Surrounded by food and staring at devices all day can make that a challenge! In our Healthy Blogger series, Sondi Bruner gives tips and practical strategies to keep you in top form. Blogging can be a lonely game and this month we're sharing tips on how to connect with other bloggers and friends off-line.
Blogging, at times, can be a solitary practice. Even if we have a built-in crew of recipe testers at home, the multi-faceted aspects of blogging often involve us spending a lot of time in front of a screen alone.
How do we move beyond the screen to connect with others, or translate our online connections to real life? Let's talk about how we can power down and cultivate our off-screen lives.
Health Benefits of Face to Face Connections
Cultivating social connections can benefit our physical and mental health. The positive emotions that result from social connections are what researchers call "positive affect." Evidence suggests that positive affect:
- Lowers risk of heart disease
- Lowers risk of overall mortality
- Boosts the immune system
- Lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels (cortisol is one of our stress hormones)
- Reduces inflammatory markers
- Increases our optimism and resilience
What About Introverts?
Longstanding research on extroverts has associated outgoing people with higher levels of happiness and wellbeing. However, all of you introverts don't need to panic! Newer research delving into introversion has found that self-acceptance of being introverted can lead to similar levels of health and well-being that the extroverts enjoy. In other words, be yourself!
If you enjoy socializing every single day, then go ahead and do it. If you don't, that's cool too. Introverts and extroverts need different amounts of social connection to feel satisfied and recharged, so focus on the type and frequency of social activities that suit you.
How to Make Real Life Blogging Connections
You likely have many food bloggers you follow on social media or in a blog reader, some of them perhaps in your town. Here are some ideas to help you reach out to them!
Have a Potluck
What better way to bond over your common interests than to have a potluck? Everyone could bring their most popular blog recipe, workshop their newest creations or just whip up something they love. You don't need to have a huge space or a fancy kitchen to host — no one minds if your counter is chipped or there's a pile of toys in the corner. They just want to have fun and eat some great food.
Start a Cookbook Club
We spend so much time creating our own recipes that it's a refreshing change to follow someone else's instructions. Exploring new cookbooks is a wonderful way to find fresh recipe inspiration, drool over incredible food photography and learn new cooking skills.
There's a large slate of cookbooks written by FBC bloggers so you could start off with one of those!
Organize a Food (Or Photography Prop) Exchange
Food tends to taste better when someone else has cooked it. And when you're eating food that's been prepared by fellow food bloggers … well, get ready to feast. Food exchanges can be themed — soups, condiments, holiday cookies — or you can create a regular cooking cooperative where you exchange a variety of staples and weekly meals.
The challenge with food exchanges and potlucks is scheduling, since everyone's dealing with busy lives. For food exchanges, a small group may be easier to coordinate, while potlucks can be a come-all-if-you-can type of deal. The best way to start is pick a day; whoever can commit, great, and those who can't will experience FOMO on Instagram.
Prop exchanges can also be a great way to socialize and come home with some new treasures. We all have loads of props for our photography and likely use the same ones over and over. Why not invite some fellow local bloggers to bring some of their props they no longer need and meet up for a prop exchange?
Attend Foodie Events
Check out the latest food-related events in your city, whether it's a street food fair, food fest, gluten-free expo, a new restaurant opening, an FBC cookbook party or a farmers market. Even certain craft shows or arts markets can have a culinary component to them. Grab a fellow food blogger, buy your tickets, and enjoy browsing and sampling.
Explore New (and Old) Restaurants and Shops
This is a country filled with incredible food. Whether you live in a large city or small town, it's likely there's something new opening up that you can explore. Make a plan to try a new cafe, go to an older restaurant you love, or eat at that famous restaurant you've always meant to try but never have.
Or, take a field trip to a a kitchen supply store, culinary emporium or specialty food shop to browse the goods. Even prop shopping at thrift stores or fabric shops can be a blast!
Host a Class or Workshop
We all have interesting skills to share with fellow food bloggers. Maybe you have an expertise in fermentation, cake decorating or gluten-free baking. Let's be generous and share our knowledge in an informal setting. Have people over for a quick culinary lesson and sampling, or invite others for a group share where everyone delivers their favourite tricks.
Another option is to host a paid cooking class, where you can connect with your audience of local blog readers and have the opportunity to chat with them face to face.
How to Make Non-Foodie Connections
We aren't 24/7 food bloggers and often we crave connections with people that don't obsess over the perfect roasted potatoes or how many likes their latest post had on Instagram. Reach out to the non-foodies in your life, too!
Call Up Your Friends
Remember, the device in your hand that you use for browsing the internet, texting, and taking photos and videos is a way to actually speak to people. Dial up your friends and have a conversation (or video chat), even if it's just for a few minutes to say hello.
Learn a New Skill
Always wanted to speak a second language or learn how to belly dance? Sign up for an introductory class at your local college, community centre or school board. Practicing a new skill allows us to disconnect from food blogging, as well as encourage neuroplasticity (our brain's ability to make new connections). It can also be a way to make new friends that we might never have encountered otherwise.
Smile at Strangers and Say Hello!
Some of us tend to go through life with our heads down, rushing from here to there. Try smiling at strangers, neighbours, restaurant servers, cashiers, and others as you are out and about. It helps to create a positive atmosphere, and you never know what might develop from there!
According to the latest data, 44 percent of people over the age of 15 have completed some type of volunteer work in Canada. That's amazing! If you haven't volunteered lately, consider giving your time to a worthy organization in your area. This not only benefits a great cause, but yields benefits for your health. Researchers have linked volunteering to improved physical and mental health, an increase in self-esteem and happiness, and better life satisfaction.
Of course, what volunteering can do for us needn't be the primary motivation, but these are some nice ancillary benefits!
Join a Group Sport or Activity
Find a recreational league in your community and get active. The health benefits of exercise are numerous, and we can meet new people. Plus, those people are often very appreciative of homemade snacks, even if you think the scones are a tad crumbly or the hummus is too heavy on the lemon.
Attend Neighbourhood Events
Hit up the neighbourhood clothing swap, block party or garage sale. Many of us don't know our neighbours well, especially in big cities. Reach out to your neighbours, or drop off a care package of cookies "just because." Maybe your neighbours won't become your best friends, but you never know.
Aim to Linger
When we're on a tight schedule, we don't carve out space to socialize with the people we see every day. Perhaps take some time to chat with other parents after school pickup or strike up a conversation after your yoga class ends. Obviously, we don't want to overstay our welcome at people's homes, classes or events, but making an effort to take an extra five minutes to chat or have a quick drink after work can help us feel more connected and, frankly, more seen.
Limit Screen Time
If you long for personal connections beyond the screen, you need to step away from your computer and your phone. Set limits on your screen time during the day or evening, or on the weekends. We often reach for the phone and scroll through Facebook as a distraction. If we're bored or uninspired, what can we do instead? You may find that by limiting screen time, you open up more space for hobbies, conversations, self-care or events.
- The Healthy Blogger: Tips For Managing Your Workload
- The Healthy Blogger: Eating Healthfully
- The Healthy Blogger: Creating Time For Yourself
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer, food blogger and author of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet in 21, The Candida Free Cookbook and Action Plan, co-author of The Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Action Plans as well as multiple e-books on healthy eating. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com. Or you can follow Sondi on Facebook or Twitter.