Connection is defined as a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else. Connection is important. Did it have to take a global pandemic, border closures and state lockdowns for us to realise just how important connection really is?
If you’re feeling lonely, know that you’re not the only one. You don’t have to live in isolation. We live in a world with over seven billion people, and we all need connection.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN CONNECTION
What do you do from day to day to care for yourself? Most would say that to be healthy, you need nutritious food and exercise.
BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR SOCIAL CONNECTIONS?
Research shows us that loneliness is on the rise, and that a lack of human connection can be more harmful to your health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
In today’s age, we live busy lives, trying to strike a balance between work, school, hobbies, self-care and more. Often, our social connections fall by the wayside. But connecting with others is more important than you might think. Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems. By neglecting our need to connect, we put our health at risk.
The reality is that we’re living in a time of true disconnection. While technology seems to connect us more than ever, the screens around us disconnect us from nature, from ourselves, and from others. Wi-Fi alone isn’t enough to fulfill our social needs – we need face-to-face interaction to thrive. Technology should be enhancing our connection to others, not replacing it.
Our inherent need for human connection doesn’t mean that every introvert must become a social butterfly.
Having human connection can look different for each person. If you’re not sure where to start in finding meaningful connection, that’s okay.
Here are some ideas to help you out:
• Join a new club, or try out a group activity
• Reach out to an old friend you’ve lost touch with
• Volunteer for a cause you care about
• Eat lunch in a communal space
• Introduce yourself to your neighbours
• Ask someone for help when you need it
• Do a random act of kindness
Human beings are inherently social creatures. As far back as we can trace, humans have travelled, hunted, and thrived in social groups and for good reason. Humans who were separated from their tribe often suffered severe consequences.
Social groups provide us with an important part of our identity, and more than that, they teach us a set of skills that help us to live our lives. Feeling socially connected, especially in an increasingly isolated world, is more important than ever. The benefits of social connectedness shouldn’t be overlooked.
SOCIAL CONNECTIONS HAVE FOUR SCIENCE / RESEARCH BACKED BENEFITS;
1. Improve your quality of life:
If you’ve ever moved away from your social “home base” then you have a good idea of just how much social connections shape your everyday life and well-being. One study showed that social connection is a greater determinant to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. And social connection doesn’t necessarily mean physically being present with people in a literal sense, but someone’s subjective experience of feeling understood and connected to others. One scale that experts use to determine a person’s subjective level of loneliness is the UCLA Loneliness Scale.
2. Boost your mental health:
Friendships offer a number of mental health benefits, such as increased feelings of belonging, purpose, increased levels of happiness, reduced levels of stress, improved self-worth and confidence. A study conducted at a free health clinic in Buffalo, New York found that respondents with insufficient perceived social support were the most likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
3. Help you live longer:
Research has shown that social connections not only impact your mental health, but your physical health as well. A review of 148 studies (309K participants) indicated that the individuals with stronger social relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival. This remained true across a number of factors, including age, sex, initial health status, and cause of death.
4. Decrease your risk of suicide:
There are a number of factors that put people at higher or lower risk for suicide. One of these factors is connectedness, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines as “The degree to which a person or group is socially close, interrelated or shares resources with other persons or groups.” Relationships can play a crucial role in protecting a person against suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
If you’re not sure how to begin forming social connections start by looking inward. What are your interests or hobbies? What kind of personalities are you naturally comfortable around?
Devote time to becoming active in your community, volunteering, or joining a club or social organisation and if you meet a potential friend, create an opportunity to spend time together.
Remember that social connections that impact your overall health and well-being may begin with lattes or a shared meal, but they require time and effort. Forming strong, healthy relationships with others means opening up, actively listening, and being open to sharing what you’re going through. These relationships can change the course of your life.
Article by Jo Hands, Whiteark.com.au