Do you have deep connections with people you love and who love you back? Recent research has shown that people who are lonely and isolated are more likely to have heart disease and stroke, get immune system problems, and may even have a harder time recovering from cancer. It's also clear that loneliness is closely linked to depression and may lead to an early death. When I heard this it made me pause to think about how far we've come as a culture, as a society of people who brag at how many Instagram followers we have, or how many "likes" we get on FaceBook. So many of our young people are holed up at home in rooms with electronics buzzing in their ear pods and their eyes glued to a screen.
How can anyone in this generation consider themselves lonely or bored? We have everything at our finger tips. I'm classic Generation X. I grew up in the same house in the same town until I moved away for college. In grade school my best friend lived around the corner. I'd go to her house after school, we played outside or with barbies. We had conflict that we had to workout between us. Lots of dialog, lots of face to face, look you in the eyes conversation. I personally believe holding a conversation is a lost art. But again that may be my Gen X coming out. I don't remember a sinking feeling of loneliness until moving away for college. Surrounded by people in college and feeling like no one really knows me here. Then marrying into the military made me realize again how important community and relationships truly are. We moved and moved. Moving means leaving friends and starting over. It's really easy to stay in your comfort zone with your technology and not get out of your little box. But what are we truly missing by not making those vital connections? It looks like our health is taking a turn for the worse. Relationships take work! They take intentionality, with little technology and lots of heart to heart time. So I decided to take a deeper dive into this idea of loneliness and what it's been doing to our health over the years. Here's what I found... Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day reports webMD. In a recent study done by Cigna nearly half of Americans report they feel alone, isolated, or left out at least some of the time. The nation’s 75 million millennials (ages 23-37) and Generation Z adults (18-22) are lonelier than any other U.S. demographic and report being in worse health than older generations. More than half Americans say that no one really knows them well, they lack companionship, and the relationships they have aren't meaningful. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. How did we get to this crazy place where we've lost community and what's the antidote? 1. We are too busy! There's always something to do and when there's not something to do we make up something to do. We love sharing how busy we are when people ask. The last thought for most people before their head hits the pillow is.....I didn't get it all done today. Because we're over booked we don't put relationships high on the priority list. Make time for connection!
2. We aren't getting enough sleep. Our first thought when most of us wake up in the morning is...I need more sleep. We live in a constant state of scarcity. There's no such thing as time management my friends! Time marches on whether we want it to or not. We can't save it or get more of it but we can control our choices. Choose to say yes to hanging around people who build you up. Carve out the time to spend with friends and family. 3. The wide spread use of social media makes it really easy to avoid real conversations. It also gives us a false sense of connection. One of the components of true happiness is strong connections. It doesn't have to be connections with blood family. But you do need to have a feeling of belonging and true friendship.
4. Our comfort zones can also hold us back from experiencing those deep connections that we all crave. We were made to have relationships and those relationships are constantly evolving. So what if you're really shy or have anxiety around meeting new people? Who do you feel safe around? Get with those people who make you feel safe then expand from there. Find the people who have great energy and make sure you get a little more of them into your life. Negative energy only pulls you down and impacts your health in the worst ways. That topic is another rabbit hole I will save for another time! Moral of the story--don't let loneliness make a home in you. We will all have lonely moments in our lives. That's completely normal! Take a good hard honest look at your life right now and rate yourself on these 4 areas above. Our healthy living community is always open to you! You've said YES somewhere along the way to health. That's why you're getting these newsletters. I'm personally inviting you to invest in your health in a completely unconventional way--make connections! Join me at a wellness workshop, online in our FaceBook group. Start by making a simple change. Every small step toward health will lead to large gains over time!