Healing the Loneliness Epidemic with Human Connection
8/27/2018 10:35 AM
As a culture, we’re communicating more than ever. But according to recent studies, it turns out we also feel incredibly isolated and lonely. A nationwide survey by health insurer Cigna found that nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent). But that heartbreaking statistic has a solution: the formation of genuine, meaningful human connections.
We understand that feeling healthy and whole goes beyond the physical body. The CREATION Health principles outline the many factors that affect each of us and our ability to live fulfilling lives. In fact, the “I” of the acronym stands for Interpersonal Relationships. Strong social connections build self-esteem, inspire trust, and grow a support system that can get us through even the toughest times.
Developing Your Social Network
It’s easy to assume that using social media means you’re staying connected. But according to the survey, it’s all about the quality of usage, not quantity. Passive use (scrolling often through multiple feeds) is associated with negative mental health effects, while more active use (building long-distance friendships or reaching out to family) has a more positive effect.
The survey also found that working too little or too much is a factor in loneliness, and that a blend of both social friendships and professional relationships is ideal. Getting the right balance of sleep, work, family time, friend time, and alone time leads to lower loneliness scores.
Reaching Out for Others — and Ourselves
Think of relationships as living, growing things that you have to nurture. It takes energy to build and maintain meaningful social connections. But the work we put in comes back to us tenfold as we strengthen our own network and one another’s.
If we strive to have more in-person conversations, make time for small talk, are generous with compliments, and make time to reach out to those around us who may seem distant or closed-off, we’ll start healing the loneliness in our communities. One simple act of kindness could be a light in the darkness of a neighbor’s chronic loneliness.
Benefits of Interpersonal Relationships
Relationships of various kinds — friends, relatives, coworkers, mentors, and more — help us navigate our world, overcome obstacles, relieve stress, celebrate victories, and enjoy the moments that make life amazing.
We believe whole health care means nurturing every person in body, mind, and spirit. Interpersonal relationships touch all these elements through their positive effect on:
- Stress reduction — Prolonged stress can cause increased inflammation, depression, anxiety, anger, sleeplessness, and fatigue. When you have someone with whom you can share your fears or concerns, you’re more likely to be at ease.
- Mental wellness — You’ll absorb the love and support of your inner circle. This positive energy is some of the best medicine for your mental health, and it’s highly contagious.
- Physical healing — Optimistic support while you’re healing from an injury or surgery is proven to help decrease recovery time. Your state of mind before, during, and after a treatment can make a tremendous difference in the final outcome.
Whether your personal network is large or small, you deserve to live a happy, full life with meaningful relationships.
Courtesy of our partners at Florida Hospital