Did you know that social connection improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being? Social connectedness is defined as the subjective experience of feeling close to others and a sense of belongingness. Connectedness is an important part of living a fulfilling life.
It was in 1988 when we first really realized that social connection was not only a pleasant diversion, but it is strongly associated with better health. In fact, the lack of social connection is a direct predictor of risk of early death for a whole host of reasons.
Since that time, researchers have been studying the effects of having healthy social connections. In addition to a 50% increased chance at longevity, you may also benefit from:
- A stronger immune system
- Lower rates of anxiety and depression
- Higher self-esteem
- Greater ability to regulate your emotions
- More empathy
The great news is that the benefits from social connectedness actually come from the inside, meaning it’s all about the way you feel. If you feel a sense of belongingness and being connected to people close to you, then that is enough! You don’t need to run out and make lots of friends just to get the benefits.
If you are feeling like you are disconnected from those you are supposed to be close with, Emma Seppälä, the Science Director at the Stanford Center For Compassion And Altruism Research And Education, and the Co-Director of Wellness at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has a few tips for you:
- Volunteer for an organization you love, get out and get engaged
- Do both random and not so random acts of kindness
- Take good care of your physical and mental health
- Ask for help! It’s hard to know if someone is feeling disconnected, make it easy for others to make a connection to you.
Dr. Seppälä has a TED talk that you might enjoy on this very topic.
JS House, KR Landis, D Umberson (1988) Social relationships and health. Science 29 Jul 1988: Vol. 241, Issue 4865, pp. 540-545