Human beings are social creatures. Throughout the course of history, humans have travelled far distances to seek each other out, form tribes and communities, start families, build towns and cities, and find mutual interests that bring them together.
Think about your own life and the relationship you have with your friends, family, and the surrounding community. These connections have helped shaped you into the person you are today and, over and above the warm and fuzzy feelings these relationships can provide, they also have physical and psychological benefits – in fact, social connection can help you live a longer life. Let’s take a deeper look at this:
Improved mental health.
Strong and healthy social connections have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies show that social connection helps improve self-esteem, feelings of empathy and trust, as well as being more cooperative and open with others. On the flip side, isolation and feelings of loneliness can lead to high levels of stress and depression.
Improved quality of life.
Reduced stress levels in the body also help strengthen our immune systems which means that our bodies are more equipped to fight off bacteria and diseases. Research has shown that a strong social connection to others leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity regardless of your age, gender, nationality, and so on. Studies have also shown that a lack of social connection is “a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure.”
In addition to improved quality of life and mental health, social connection can reduce the risk of suicide. In an article published by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) they state that while there are many factors that put people at higher or lower risk for suicide, many are related to the concept of connectedness.
Social connectedness during the time of COVID-19
The CDC defines connectedness as “the degree to which an individual or group is socially close, interrelated, or shares resources with other individuals or groups.” 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.
So, even though COVID-19 has resulted in human beings having to adjust the way we have grown accustomed to socialising, we don’t necessarily need to be in close proximities to benefit from connection. This article provides some internal and external strategies that you can introduce into your life to ensure you are maintaining a healthy balance during times of mandatory isolation and social distancing.
Remember, that while this new way of connecting to others has been difficult to adjust to it does not mean that we must close ourselves off, rather it challenges us to be creative in the way we interact and maintain our connections.
So, reach out to that friend you’ve been meaning to call, or send someone you have been thinking about a message. A little communication can go a long way.