Thanks to budding technologies, the world is more connected than ever. A device with the power of a computer and global reach is literally in most people’s pockets. With a cellphone, you can be connected to work, family, and friends from most places on the planet. This has allowed work to have more flexibility for remote and hybrid options. It also connects you to your people no matter where you are. That can be great because you can be somewhere and still have a digital community.

The problem is that it can serve as a crutch and limit you from trying to meet new people. While screen time and digital connection is great, there’s a thing to be said for in-person socialization. Getting together face-to-face allows for deeper emotional connections and shared experiences that foster empathy, understanding, and a sense of belonging. That said, it can be challenging to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people. But take the leap! Keep reading for tips for exploring new social opportunities.

1. Put Events In Your Calendar

You likely have some friends or even work colleagues you run into who talk about making plans. One will say, “We should get together soon.” And the other responds, “Yeah, that sounds great!” And then six months go by, and it doesn’t happen. Plans without a date seem to stay tentative. If you want actually to go out and get together, set a date and time.

Putting it in your calendars is a way to prioritize it happening. It holds you accountable. If you put the event in your digital calendar — whether that’s, Google Calendar, or Outlook — you’ll get a reminder it’s coming up too. Blocking off the time early also keeps other things from being scheduled over top of it. You use your calendar to set work meetings, so why not use it for personal things, too? Scheduling gives you the freedom to go and enjoy your time.

2. Look for Volunteer Opportunities

Sometimes, getting that invite or finding people to hang out with can be challenging. If you’re not sure who to hang out with or what to do, look for a volunteer activity. Find a cause you believe in and sign up to help. Most importantly, prioritize going once you sign up. It can feel a bit out of your comfort zone to go by yourself, but there will be others there to work alongside you.

For example, you could plant flowers and vegetables in a community garden or help at the local food bank. Whatever you choose, you’ll meet others there with similar interests. Working shoulder to shoulder with others to better your community positively impacts you and others. Your job might even have a group that will go together or give you PTO to volunteer. If it’s something you enjoy, make volunteering a habit you do regularly.

3. Workout in Creative Ways

Moving your body and prioritizing your health is important. Not only is movement good for your physical health, but it’s great for your mental health, too. Practicing weekly or even daily exercise can help prevent chronic illnesses that come with a sedentary lifestyle. Even better, getting active can be a way to make new connections.

If you work from home, you could set up a moving lunch where you work or walk during your lunch hour. Do you have a neighbor who works from home too? Invite them for some social time on your walk. After work, look for fun ways to move your body. Joining a kickball or slow pitch softball or paddle ball league can be great fun and help you meet people. Team sports, group fitness classes, and outdoor adventures are great options for moving and socializing.

4. Check Out Free Events

If you’re looking to get out and explore, but not break the bank, look up free events in your town. Chances are, local activities are going on that are unique and fun. In the spring and summer, many towns host a farmer’s market on weekend mornings. Invite a friend and stroll through and enjoy the crowds and atmosphere; there might even be local music playing. You can purchase and support local businesses if you find any goods or drinks you like.

Depending on your area, some museums and zoos offer free admission. You can check out those places and what they have to offer. Different times of the year have different exhibits, so you can go back if you like. Parks and local libraries also host events throughout the year. Check out what interests you; there will be like-minded people there, too.

5. Go to a Trivia Night

Trivia nights are a unique way to explore your city and join a group. They often happen in neat locations like breweries or cute cafes. Look up trivia nights near you online. Facebook events are a great place to start. There are also even themed nights. Whether it’s Star Wars or classical music, find one that interests you and sign up.

Sometimes, people go to trivia with their own group, and other times, they go solo and pair up. If you’re going solo, don’t worry! Many groups will accept a newcomer with open arms. The specialty theme nights also connect you to others who like what you like. Friends trivia nights, for example, give you lots to talk about with new people.

6. Take a Class

Finding ways to broaden your horizons is a great way to get out of the house and off of the screen time that we have been told is damaging all of us. You can focus on a new skill that enriches your life. If you have always loved to paint, look for a painting night or join a class that lasts a few weeks. If you want to learn how to cook, find a cooking class. Your local community center or college can be a great place to find resources.

Local churches also offer Bible studies or different classes from time to time. Going to these classes puts you in proximity with other people who have a shared experience. It also lets you be part of something bigger than yourself while contributing to your own personal development. It’s good to create balance. Life doesn’t have to be all work and no play.

7. Hit Up a Festival

Let’s face it: there’s pretty much a festival for everything these days. Do you like pickles? There’s a pickle fest! Is music your jam? There are so many musical festivals of all genres, from Lollapalooza to Coachella. Even video games and comics have their own festivals in the way of Comic Cons.

See if anyone you know wants to go with you. If not, there will be lots of people there who love the same thing you do. You might even hit it off with someone, especially if it’s a local group. When you’re at these events, you’ll learn about future events and gatherings as well.

When you want to meet people but aren’t sure how it can be a challenge. It often means you will have to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to go first and ask a coworker or person at your gym to hang out. Many people are also looking for connections but don’t know how to go first.

Try a few of the tips above to explore new social opportunities. Getting out and putting down the screens can profoundly impact your happiness and mental health. If you find it easy to cancel plans or decide not to go, try putting it in your calendar. That earmarks the outing as important, and it will send you a reminder to get out and explore.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Monstera Production; Pexels