The Importance of Connection

By Cherise White, LMSW

As both winter and the holiday season approach, it's common to see an increase in people connecting with family and others. It's also common for people to feel lonely, isolated, and become psychologically impacted by the weather and time changes. Baumeister and Leary (1995) underline how little to no social connection can be linked to poor physical and psychological health. This lack of social connection can increase one’s susceptibility to disease and death more than smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and lack of physical activity. Further, poor social connection has been found to increase anxiety depression, antisocial behavior, and even suicidal behaviors.

On the other hand, having strong social connections is found to yield 50% increase in life longevity (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, Layton, 2010). Other benefits of social connection include strengthened immune system, lower rates of anxiety and depression, and increased recovery time from diseases (Pressman et al., n. d.). Therefore, social connection results in a positive cycle of promoting increased emotional, physical, and psychological health (Seppala, 2012). 

Do you want to improve your social life but struggle to think of how or where to start? Here are some ways to connect to others:

Connect through Exploration

  • Visit your neighborhood shops and build rapport
  • Volunteer at schools, shelters, nursing homes, animal shelters

Connect with your Current Network

  • Speak to your neighbors
  • Reach out to old friends you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Visit old cities, friends, and places that you previously enjoyed
  • Call, visit, or facetime family 

Connect through Technology

  • Apps where you can find friends or activities going on near you: (Bumble BFF, Meet my dog, Meet up, Nextdoor, Peanut (for mothers), Skout, Nearify, MeetMe)
  • Google events happening in your city this week
  • Find online communities

Connect through Groups

  • Look for college alumni groups
  • Church and religious groups
  • Professional organizations
  • Support groups 

Connect through Approachability

  • In big cities, during transit try not having in earphones so you are more approachable
  • If in college, sit beside someone new or change up were you sit 

“We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” -Brene Brown

Overall, it's not unhealthy to have alone time but it is beneficial to find a balance. 

References:

Cherise White is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support in exploring strategies for increasing social connection, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.