The Power of Connection to Reduce Loneliness and Improve Well-being
Updated: Apr 12
Hello Sweet Friend,
Have you ever felt lonely? Loneliness is a state of feeling alone and feeling sad about it. It can even cause you anxiety. Of course, you can also be in a crowd, but you can still feel lonely if you are not interacting or feeling connected. From personal experience, I can tell your heart can feel very heavy.
In today’s fast-paced life, we are pulled in multiple directions, and we forget that one thing essential for our health and well-being is to have trusting and loving relationships. Knowing that we belong, are loved, valued, and appreciated for who we are is vital for our health and well-being. Therefore, it’s essential to nurture current relationships and build new connections, especially as we go through different seasons of life. So what are the benefits of social support? We feel emotionally connected. We are happier and can endure more when we have a network of high-quality friends because we have someone that gives us a sense of belonging, listens to us, laughs with us in good, and cries with us in bad times. When we have support, we are more encouraged to strive for our dreams, even when things get hard. Having established social support is critical when we face major health issues. Having meaningful companionships and psychological support can help ease fears and improve healing and optimism. For example, optimism and social support are associated with improved overall well-being in cancer patients and fosters resilience. Another critical aspect of social support is increased motivation and perseverance to make a change. Integrating into a social network with the same vision and goals can help people who might not have the self-efficacy to change. Different findings have demonstrated that those who exercised in pairs or a group maintained higher physical activity levels than those who did not. Therefore, harnessing and using such networks can promote and sustain healthy behavior change. As we age, social support becomes even more critical. There is evidence that socially isolated individuals with few positive social connections seem to age faster and show evidence of greater physiologic damage over time than those with more positive social relationships. Social support has physiological benefits as well. It can help reduce blood pressure, increase cognitive functioning, help with stress management, and reduce mortality rates.
Having social support is especially important for women. For example, women feel a profound loss when kids leave home. Making new and nurturing current friends from the same walks of life is essential. Having friends who understand what it means to have your kids out of the house, aging parents, approaching menopause, and the desire to find purpose in your life is vital. For me, it’s essential to have a tribe of other women. That is when I thrive the most. I know I have an increased sense of health and well-being by having them around me. At the same time, I also need women who are passionate about what I believe, so surrounding myself with women in health, wellness, and nutrition is personally and professionally rewarding. Learning with and from others is central to maintaining a state of growth and a positive outlook on life.
So what are some tools and strategies to increase social support
Going back to school: Building bonds with like-minded people is easier, so joining a class at a local Junior college or online can increase the sense of belonging. Sharing opinions and experiences with others in a safe learning environment and collaborating on shared goals can be very beneficial.
Get creative: Participating in classes that teach drawing, photography, pottery, and dancing can increase one creative spirit, reduce stress, and help to build meaningful relationships.
Get fit: Join a walking or running group and work out with a buddy. Having that commitment can get people out of the house and increase endurance. Having someone there to motivate you can push you to go the extra mile.
Volunteer: Giving time and sharing your particular strength has significant paybacks. Volunteering will improve physical and mental health, decrease depression, and increase happiness. Sharing one's strength can give a sense of purpose, meaning, and belonging.
Join a Church: Gathering with others to worship a higher power is soothing to the soul and has significant health benefits like decreased blood pressure and stress. It also increases resistance to diseases and longevity.
Get a pet: Dogs and cats can provide social support and companionship for their owners. They also help foster social networks with humans. Having a dog can be easy to start a conversation with neighbors or another pet owner, especially in cities where people take their dogs to dog parks.
Get friendly with your coworkers: We spend most of our days at work, so trying to find commonalities with coworkers is important. When we are happy because we like hanging out with the people at work, we are more productive and motivated to give our best.
Join an online social network: Social networks are great for finding like-minded people and sharing information. Joining groups like Meetup can also help to find local events, and new friendships can be cultivated by attending.
Stay connected: Friendships need to be nurtured, so it’s vital to make an effort to remember someone’s birthday and call or send a card. Pay attention when they mention important events and check back in. Keep in touch through video chats, phone, or over text.
Social support can give you the light when things seem very dark, and we must try to maintain it. Now that you know of the benefits of social support, you might be more willing to get out of your comfort zone, connect with old friends, and be open to fostering new relationships. It’s important to remember that what you seek is seeking you, so who knows, you might be helping someone else going through a season of loneliness by reaching out.