Written by Carrie Company
According to the recent Surgeon General of the United States, the biggest health issue today is feeling lonely and socially disconnected. While 20% of adults reported feeling lonely in the 1980s, that number is now 40%. Acting Surgeon General Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams says loneliness takes a toll on our health similar to smoking and obesity. People who are isolated are 2 times more likely to die prematurely than those who are not.
The antidote to isolation is improving social connections!
There is evidence that shows that a strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity. So, how do you cultivate and maintain a satisfying social life in order to increase your chances of enjoying a long, healthy, and happy life?
- Maintain contact with existing friends and reconnect with your old friends.
- Make an effort to carve out time to be with people you care about. Remember that it’s not the number of social relationships but the quality that really matters. An introvert might need one confidante not to feel lonely, whereas an extrovert might require two or three friends.
- If you use social media, use it as a way to meet friends someplace. Do not use it as a place to social withdrawal or interact as a non-authentic self which can deepen loneliness and isolation.
- Create a setting where people can let their guard down and safely confide in each other. Practice speaking about your feelings with authenticity and listening to others non-judgmentally and with empathy and compassion.
- One of the best ways to forge and maintain friendships is through consistency. Plan a schedule where you meet up with friends on a regular basis at least twice a month. Consider a support group, book club, training for an event with friends.