Re-entry can be both exciting and taxing on ourselves and our personal relationships. We asked individuals and couples’ therapist, Nancy Lucas, for advice on navigating these new experiences. By Nancy C. Lucas It’s the time of year that all of us New Englanders wait for! All the delights that our beloved shoreline has to offer are at their height and unlike any summer before, we want to say yes to it all! Naturally with our joyful emergence from this past year comes the temptation to fill up our calendars, but there could be consequences to getting back to our past overly hectic lifestyles. In both my practice and life, I have listened to many people express that one of the silver linings of the past year was the opportunity to focus on the relationships most important to us and simplify our lives. How can we keep those crucial connections strong as we become over scheduled once again? As we get back into the demands of the rapidly reopening world, here are four proven practices we can all do to keep our connections and relationships strong. (And as a bonus, keep our sanity as well!) Be aware that little gestures can have big impacts. Tip 1: Be it a pat on the knee, a wink across the room, a shared joke, a tickle or a random hug, these BIDS FOR CONNECTION are powerful fuel for your relationships. Initiate them often and respond if someone is making a bid to you. Small gestures in a busy day can remind your loved ones that you feel connected to them. Tip 2: Don’t let your overscheduled day cause you to shut down when you get home. SHOW INTEREST, by asking the people in your life how they are, if they met that deadline at work… show you care and they will feel cared about and best of all give it back to you in return! Tip 3: Hold hands, snuggle on the couch, sit close and read something together or give a kiss before you part. Believe it or not, when it comes to our romantic relationships, holding a kiss for at least 6 seconds releases dopamine and oxytocin and makes your bond stronger! Every relationship we have has unique ways to PHYSICALLY CONNECT-do it daily! Tip 4: The world is opening up, but let’s not forget about those cozy nights at home that we all enjoyed. Do not let all your other commitments get in the way of spending QUALITY TIME with those you love. Sporting events, fun vacations, concerts and great restaurants are definitely something we have been longing for, but don’t forget that take-out on the patio or doing a puzzle around the kitchen table is fun too. It’s time together that matters the most so just do it! Prioritizing these practices will reinforce the important lesson this past year taught many of us. Giving our time and energy to our relationships can bring us far more joy and contentment than spreading ourselves too thin. So go forward into this fun summer, have a blast with all those people you missed, but also nourish the relationships you cherish most. You’ll feel a lot less exhausted and a lot more connected. Nancy C. Lucas is a licensed therapist specializing in counseling for individuals and couples. She has her own practice located in Essex, CT. Visit nancyclucas.com for more information.