Build, sustain, and grow deep emotional relationships.
The benefits of social connection are many. Studies show that people who feel more connected to others have “lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. In other words, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.” (Dr. Emma Seppalla, Stanford) Social connection “boosts your immune system, can help you recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen your life.” I’d say that’s all pretty important.
On the other hand, a lack of social connection can be extremely detrimental to your health. “Prospective studies, which control for baseline health status, consistently show increased risk of death among persons with a low quantity, and sometimes low quality, of social relationships.” These studies show an increased risk of death consistent with obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. Not great. To make matters worse, loneliness seems to be on the rise. In a poll taken in 2004 almost 25% of adults said that they had no one to confide in…that’s 1 in 4 people who felt that they had no sense of connection to anyone else. People who feel like they have no social connection to others are more vulnerable to disease, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Loneliness is actually becoming one of the main reasons people seek psychological counseling.
With all of this information it’s easy to see why we consider social connection so important and why it makes the list of the “5 Factors of Health”. Here are some simple tips to get more connected to your fellow humans.
It appears to be quality, not quantity, that matters:
You don’t need to be friends with everyone you walk by on the street to reap the benefits of social connection. In fact, the research seems to show that the depth of connection is the most important. Research also shows that the sense of connection to other people comes from within you, meaning you don’t have to be physically close to someone to feel connected. So keep that pen pal or that phone call once a week to your friend in another country.
Call don’t text:
Speaking of phone calls, one of the easiest ways to connect more deeply is to call your friends. I know it’s a little strange these days to actually speak on the phone but it goes a long way. Texts are to easy to ignore or forget to respond to and that doesn’t leave anyone feeling good. Plus in a 5 minute phone conversation you can talk about so much more than in 20 minutes of texting.
Join a new club or group:
Finding a group of people who are interested in the same things is easier than ever now with the internet. No matter what it is that you find fun, there are people in your area who like it too. Like to ride fixed gear bikes? Like to play Dungeons and Dragons? Like to sew? Interested in a book club?…there are people doing what you like to do. Go find them. And if a community of people trying to be healthier and happier is your thing, come see us at CrossFit Indiana.
For a deeper dive on how to connect with other people check out this podcast – Chasing Excellence
Here’s a TedxTalk from Dr. Emma Seppalla about some of the science behind personal connection.
I challenge you to pick up the phone, and call someone. Make time to connect with people.