“With a phone call, you can have a few little tears and not be embarrassed because the other person can’t see them,” Lexi says. “They might hear it in your voice but it’s easy because they can’t see your face.”

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Dr Brooklyn Storme gets where Lexi is coming from. The consultant and coach worked as a psychologist for more than 20 years and says losing yourself in conversation with a friend over the phone can help foster a deeper sense of engagement with others. “And that in itself can lead to demonstrable improvements in mental health, such as reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.”

New research from the University of Texas at Austin backs the idea that voice calls are good for our mental health. When compared to text-based communication such as emails or messages, the researchers found voice calls have a distinct advantage.

“People feel significantly more connected through voice-based media,” says co-author Amit Kumar, who adds that people report forming “a significantly stronger bond” with an old friend on the phone versus via email.

But the truth is, if you’re really not a “phone person”, it might take some time before becoming a veteran caller. Storme suggests starting by making a call to someone you already know, like and trust.

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Keep a couple of questions up your sleeve to help reduce your fear of having nothing to talk about. “By planning the call – what you want to say and how long you want to talk for – you’ll feel more confident taking that first step.”

Don’t feel you have to natter away for hours to make it worth your while, either. Storme says even touching base “for a minute or two” can help you feel more connected to others.

Making a call can also offer a much-needed form of connection for those around you. Lexi has lost count of the number of times a person she’s phoned has gushed with gratitude, saying it’s the first contact they’ve had with someone in days.

“It does make you feel pretty warm and fuzzy,” she says.

If you’re still hesitating about giving someone a ring, Storme recommends taking a leaf out of Lexi’s book. Instead of worrying about what you’ll chat about, focus on how your call might affect the person you’re dialling. “A simple phone call may be the highlight of their day,” Storme says.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale December 13. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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