Connecting & learning


As highlighted in this Wellbeing section, our wellbeing is enhanced through engaging in a range of activities, including through connecting and learning.  

Detailed below is some information and suggestions on enhancing connections and learning in our lives and contributing to overall wellbeing  

We recommend also checking out our Wellbeing companion pages on:  

Connecting for our wellbeing 

When it comes to our wellbeing, connecting with people matters. Evidence shows that connecting with others and forming respectful, caring, encouraging relationships – supports our overall wellbeing and the wellbeing of the people we connect with. 

Challenges for survivors 

Building relationships and connection can be tricky for people who have experienced childhood trauma and abuse, as it is in a relationship context that harm often occurs.   

While we all hope that people will grow up in a supportive, connected, nurturing environment, it is not everyone’s experience.  Some people are betrayed and abused by the very people responsible for their protection and care.  As a result, some survivors can isolate or struggle with establishing close relationships (in particular) and can become suspicious of those seeking to befriend them.   

We live and breathe through relationships 

While recognising that close relationships and connecting with other people can be challenging, the fact is that we live, breathe, grow and enhance our wellbeing in relationship contexts.  Through connecting with others and developing respectful relationships we: 

  • build a sense of confidence, belonging and self-worth 
  • provide opportunities to create and share positive experiences 
  • can receive and offer emotional and practical support 
  • enhance our ability to manage and overcome difficulties 
  • no longer feel as isolated and alone 
  • support our own and others healing, recovery and wellbeing.   

Our wellbeing is supported through both:  

  1. Strengthening close connections with loved ones, be they a partner, family member and/or friends, and  
  2. Broadening our everyday connections within our community and the wider world 

Developing and nurturing connections  

You might have already be nurturing close relationships and actively seeking out connections within your wider community.  You might decide to strengthen and extend these connections.  Over the coming months, you might consider:  

  • Prioritising time to connect more purposefully and consistently with loved ones, with family or friends.  
  • Organising a regular “time to connect” every day, week, fortnight or month  
  • Go with a friend to a local sporting, music or cultural event 
  • Arranging a morning or evening out with someone or a group you haven’t seen for a while. 
  • Creating a social media free night, where you share a meal or play a game with your partner or children, or just talk 
  • Joining a creative and supportive online group 
  • Sharing a catch-up call, text, photo, video with a friend 
  • Building musical connections with a friend through Spotify Blend or similar platform 
  • Challenging yourself to speak or say hello to someone new each day 
  • Sharing a coffee or lunch with a colleague 
  • Learning the name and saying hello to a staff member at your local café, shop or library.   
  • Visiting a friend or family member who would welcome support or company. 
  • Researching and participating in a “meetup” in your area that fits with your interests or maybe steps you outside of your comfort zone, like:  
    • book club (face to face or virtual),  
    • walking, swim club 
    • manual arts, craft or photography groups (face to face or online),  
    • men’s sheds, fishing, car club, trivia night  

You might connect with people through activities that benefit your wellbeing on a number of levels, through shared exercise, being outside in nature, learning a new skill, helping others.  

Connecting and helping others  

Sometimes we can lose sight of the fact that we have something to offer. Recent research in neuroscience shows that helping others and working collaboratively, activates and strengthens our overall sense of wellbeing.  

The more we connect and assist others and they come to see us as a person with skills and abilities, the more we are able to see ourselves in that way, as someone who has something to offer.  We might choose to: 

  • assist a friend with a task at home or work 
  • volunteer for a community or charitable organisation  
  • help an elderly neighbour or relative, or  
  • make time to listen to someone you know who is having a hard time.  

Show kindness 

Helping others can be about small acts of kindness and assistance, it does not need to involve a grand gesture of commitment.  Research tells us that act of kindness triggers the release of feel good chemicals into our brain associated with building connection and trust.  

Helping others can not only make someone’s day a little easier or lighten a load, it can reduce both their and our sense of isolation, it can contribute to our sense of purpose and add to feelings of self-worth.

Keep on learning 

Another activity that is worth investing times and energy into, is to actively seek out opportunities to enhance our learning.  Investing in our learning doesn’t require us to enrol in a course of study in order to obtain a formal qualification (though we can if we want to). There are a host of ways to activate your brain and keep on learning in your everyday life. 

Why keep learning? 

Learning has been shown to help improve our well-being. It can boost our self-confidence and self-esteem, help build a sense of purpose, and foster connection with others.  People engaged in learning report feeling better about themselves, more hopeful and having a greater ability to cope with stress.   

A possible struggle 

Many people who have experienced childhood abuse, may be sceptical of any suggestion of investing in learning.  In childhood, school may have been an unsafe space and trauma may have made it difficult for some to concentrate, to hold onto information and organise their thoughts.  Whereas, for others, study and sport, were a saviour, somewhere that offered a degree of control and positive recognition.   

Whatever your childhood experience, the encouragement here to involve yourself in learning, is very much about doing so on your terms, to engage in learning activities that you are interested in and contributes to your life.   

Keep on learning for mental wellbeing. 

Give learning a go  

Learning for you might be about building on current knowledge and skills or learning something new.  You are likely to enjoy, stick at and get the most out of learning, if you choose something that interests you and fits with your learning style and lifestyle.   

You might be someone who prefers formal or informal learning, someone who likes to research, read up and sign up for courses or someone who likes to learn by doing, by diving in and getting your hands dirty.   

Below are some learning activities that you might trial either individually or with a friend: 

  • Learn to cook a favourite dish that you’ve never eaten at home. 
  • Download and listen to podcasts on topics that interest you 
  • Join the library and set yourself a task of reading one fiction and one non-fiction a month 
  • Learn a new language, make use of Apps like Babbel, Duolingo 
  • Visit a local gallery or museum and learn about a person or period in history that interests you. 
  • Learn the name of plants, trees or birds in your garden or native to your area 
  • Volunteer or take on a new responsibility at work, 
  • Do daily word or number puzzles, like crosswords, anagrams, wordle, sudoku 
  • Watch and test yourself against contestants on TV quiz shows  
  • Take up a musical instrument or join a choir 
  • Teach yourself juggling, whip cracking,  
  • Learn a new sport or dive deeper into a current sporting interest 
  • Join a local club or interest group 
  • Sign up for short courses or formal education at the local college or university, 
  • Learn how to make the most of your camera or new photo editing 
  • Participate in a Yoga, Tai Chi or Qijong class in person or online  
  • Subscribe to a magazine, journal that aligns with your interests. 
  • Fix that broken bike or garden gate. Once you’ve done that, how about setting yourself a bigger DIY project? YouTube is great for this. 
  • Sign up for a course you’ve been meaning to do at a local community centre. You might learn a new art or crafting skill, or try something practical such as gardening or plumbing. 
  • Rediscover an old hobby that challenges you, whether it’s making model aeroplanes, writing stories, drawing or knitting (there are online communities for knitters who are men!) 
  • Visit a local men’s shed or check out a community group and see what they have to offer. 
  • Learn about Artificial Intelligence and try out platforms such as ChatGPT 

Engaging in a learning activity can have the added benefit of being an opportunity to connect with people with similar interests. 

Self-learning resources 

The internet is making it easier for us all to keep on learning in new and interesting ways, and in the process enhance our well-being. It is worth checking out these free resources and sites for self learning. 

TED: Ideas worth spreading 

TED is a small non profit that started out (in 1984) as a conference for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. TED believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. 

How Stuff Works 

How Stuff Works is a resource for anyone who wants to know how anything works. Want to look up how something works the way it does? Try here. Satisfy your curiosity about computers, engines, physics, aviation, the human body, philosophical problems… pretty much anything. 

The Khan Academy 

Khan Academy is a not-for-profit providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. All of the site’s materials and resources are available to anyone for free. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. 

The Creativity Portal 

The Creativity Portal helps you to explore various activities related to arts, crafts, music, and writing. It is a directory of sites that have free instructional information (tips, tutorials, articles, projects, how-to’s, etc) to help you learn about topics such as photography, writing, fine arts, graphic design, music making, origami, balloon twisting, and a whole lot of other things. 


Coursera is an American online learning platform working with Universities to provide tertiary level courses and degrees to massive numbers of people anywhere in the world. Many of the courses are available for free, however if you desire a certificate there are costs involved. 

We welcome suggestions of new and interesting ways to introduce more learning into your life.