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How to Prioritise Connection Over Consumption

How to Prioritise Connection Over Consumption

Modern culture encourages us to believe that more is better, in every way possible. In this article I’m sharing 6 ways to prioritise connection over consumption for a happier, healthier you and a simpler, more intentional life.


One of the most interesting and impactful Ted Talks I’ve listened to was given by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, who leads the Harvard Study of Adult Development. This is one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever conducted and one of the key insights so far is that the happiest and healthiest people are those who have warm connections with others.

As I write this we’re heading towards Christmas and the New Year. It’s a busy time, pushing and pulling us in different directions. Maybe you’re reading this as the year is drawing to a close, or perhaps the year is in full swing. Regardless of the timing, I think many of us would agree that happiness and health should ALWAYS be a priority.

On my blog I talk a lot about the importance of intentionality in life, of living a meaningful and rewarding life, the simple way, and also how these give us space, time and freedom to practice self-care and looking after our physical and mental health. But I also know this isn’t as easy as it sounds!


In this article I’d like to share some thoughts about just one aspect of this. How we can prioritise connection over consumption. If warm connections are the beating heart of a happy and healthy life, let’s find ways to honour them in our every day. Here are some practical and simple steps to help you get started!

1. Reduce social media consumption

Recent figures estimate that the average user spends 2 hours and 31 minutes daily on social media. We scroll through feeds looking at the lives of other people whilst neglecting our own. Increased rates of mental health problems, wasted time, reduced engagement with real people and not being fully present in our own life, right here and now, all contribute to too much consumption and lack of connection.

Try to put your phone down when with others, remove social media apps from your phone, set limits for your social media screen time, and avoid your phone in the lead up to bedtime. Create a experiment and monitor your social media usage over the next week. The following week, think instead what you could do with that time and get on and do it. What do you learn, try, explore and feel? Could you do a screen-free challenge and see what happens?

2. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being centred and focused in the present. It is a wonderful tool for reducing stress, calming the body, listening to what your heart and soul needs and drowning out the noise of the busy world around you.

Today’s world encourages us, requires us even, to be open to information overload. From TV screens and pings from our phones, to demands from our boss, advertising junk mail landing on our door mat, to the news we watch on TV and the myriad things to remember as part of normal everyday adult life. I don’t know about you but I feel pulled in every direction sometimes and I’m spread thin. Overstretched and sometimes overwhelmed.

Mindfulness brings us back to the here and now and helps us connect with the present. Savour that square of chocolate, your cup of hot tea, the feel of the grass beneath your feet, the wind on your face, the scent of the flowers in your kitchen, even the care with which you tidy and declutter your home. Did you know there’s a strong connection between mindfulness and decluttering?! The past is gone, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but the present is special enough to spend time on now.

6 ways to prioritise connection over consumption

3. Build stronger relationships

How many real, true, deep relationships do you have in your life right now? We live in an age where everything and everyone is available at the click of a mouse or the touch of a button. This means that we can get to know many, many people, from every walk of life and country on the planet. How amazing is that when you think about it!?

But, it’s the quality of those relationships rather than the quantity that counts. Although younger people tend to use social media more to build social relationships, older generations tend to focus on the less is more approach. Fewer but stronger friendships, built on trust, kindness, respect and love, and tended to with time, energy and dedication. Let’s try to keep in touch more and make quality time for our family, loved ones and friends.

Could you take a small, baby step towards this right now? Call a friend, send them a text, invite them for coffee? Organise a date with your partner, a cuddle with your kids?

4. Give your presence not your presents

Buy this, buy more, buy bigger, buy better. The stores and advertisers are always on the lookout for ways to capture our attention and draw us in. We buy stuff for ourselves and stuff for others because modern culture teaches us that to be happy and fulfilled in life, we need THINGS to make us feel like that.

Whilst we do need food, shelter, clothes and plenty of ‘things’ to buy and consume, what we also need is connection. Maybe next time you’re considering buying a gift for someone you care about, think how you might give your presence instead of your presents. Giving yourself, your time, energy, companionship, thoughtfulness and humour can be far more valuable and long-lasting than so many things you can just buy in a shop.

5. Avoid distractions and multi-tasking

Consumption isn’t just about buying things. It’s also about taking in and processing all the messages and signals that our busy lives throw in our direction.

Work, family, home, money, friendships, hobbies, mental health, self-care, to do lists, emails, the commute to work, the shopping list on the front of our fridge, the dust in our homes. All of these things take up bandwidth in our schedule, body and mind and require us to multi-task and cope with information streaming in from every angle. Do this, remember that, be there… Distractions come from every angle and we consume them all to greater or lesser degree.

Remove the distractions wherever possible and connect with the important things in your life. Turn off your phone notifications, limit your TV time, turn off the news if it feels too difficult, unsubscribe to email newsletters that don’t add value, get rid of direct debits and subscriptions that you no longer use.

Perhaps even find golden pockets of silence as you go about your day. “Connection with yourself only comes in moments of silence.” (Bryant McGill)

6. Eat healthily and exercise regularly

You can eat pretty much anything you want these days and much of it you can order from your phone to be delivered to your home. Or you can zap a meal in the microwave and be eating it in just a few minutes.

Your body runs on the fuel you put inside it, but even though we know this, many of us still reach for ready-made, processed foods for ease and speed. We fall into the trap of choosing foods that fit into our busy schedules instead of those that provide nutrient-rich, healthy balanced diets. More than this, we then don’t have the time, energy or motivation to exercise our bodies and keep them strong and supple for as long as possible.

Excuse the pun, but I think we often have too much on our plates these days. Not enough of the right food stuffs and regular movement that our bodies require to become and stay healthy. We consume too much of the wrong food, and our schedules consume our time and energy so we disconnect from the needs of our bodies and don’t listen to the warning signs of being overtired, overstressed and burnt out.

Connect with yourself and really hear what your body is trying to tell you. Find ways to eat healthily, simplify meal planning and weave more movement into your every day.

6 ways to prioritise connection over consumption


Here are some other ways you can practice mindfulness, being present and stop the quest for yet more stuff.


Modern culture encourages us to consume in many different ways. For many of us this means we become overloaded and out of sync with ourselves and with life. In this article I’ve suggested 6 ways you can prioritise connection over consumption.

Whether it’s being present with loved ones, slowing down your schedule and finding time for you, strengthening your most important relationships, turning off your notifications and sitting quietly for a few minutes and listening to the birds sing, I hope you can find your own ways to connect with yourself, your life and with others.

What other ways could you prioritise connection over consumption? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below.


Making time and space to prioritise looking after ourselves isn’t always easy. We tend to react and act upon whatever is most important or urgent at the time. Unfortunately this often means that we fail to tend to our own needs as everything else always seems more pressing.

A simple, intentional life is all about identifying and honouring what’s important. So, it’s really a question of priorities. To understand more about your own priorities, you might enjoy this quick worksheet to help you uncover and make way for yours.

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Sunday 26th of November 2023

Great article, Antonia. I know that since lockdown, I've been struggling to rebuild my friendships. In consequence, I tend to over-consume, when what I really need is connection. Thank you for this excellent list of things to consider.

Balance Through Simplicity

Sunday 26th of November 2023

Hi Laura, I think many of us were affected by lockdown, and the effects are long-lasting even if we don't always realise it. Connection may be so vital, but that doesn't always make it easy.