Human connection is defined as an energy exchange between people who are paying attention to one another. It has the power to deepen the moment, inspire change and build trust. The moment we are placed upon our mother’s chest after being born, a genuine connection is formed, and it is perhaps the most powerful connection of them all. Any human connection is the deep bond that makes one feel heard, understood, and loved. Having such a link helps decrease health risks and improves physical well-being and longevity and strengthens the immune system. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it forced millions of people into isolation, caused many to feel lonely and increased the rate of suicide. One recent study revealed that over 3 in 5 Americans feel lonely. Loneliness does not necessarily mean being alone but is actually a state of mind. It is when our longing for and/or idea of human relationships is unfulfilled.
People who lack social connection are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, antisocial behavior, morbidity, cognitive decline, and even suicidal behaviors which tend to further increase their isolation. Furthermore, there is consistent evidence linking a lack of social connection with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, immune disorders, and cancer. Fortunately, there are ways to combat isolation and continue to thrive by achieving human connection even while living in a world faced with viruses such as COVID-19 and now, a spread of monkeypox across the country.
People who are connected with family, friends, support groups, and their community usually:
- Have lower rates of depression and anxiety
- Feel more empathetic towards others
- Have higher self-esteem
- Are more trusting towards others
- Exhibit less anti-social behavior
- Have lower rates of suicide and suicidal behaviors
One meaningful way to connect with others is by volunteering. It’s an easy way to make friends while feeling a sense of purpose. Giving back amplifies a sense of gratitude. Get together with those who share the same interests and hobbies as you do. If you love reading, join a book club. It is a longstanding traditional way of socializing. If you’re not quite ready to attend monthly meetings to include conversation and a light brunch, there are several Facebook reading groups to join.
Is being active more your style? Join a local running club or some other sports group. Be present in conversations. Get in the habit of giving your full attention, listening carefully, and being engaging by asking questions if you can. Go to a drive-in movie and still be around other people while remaining safely in your own vehicle. Also, with living in the sphere of technology, we are quick to send a text message rather than pick up the phone. Bring back phone calls and listen to the sound of another person’s voice.
American philanthropist Melinda Gates once said, “Deep human connection is … the purpose and the result of a meaningful life – and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity, and humanity.”