Loneliness is defined as a gap between the connection you want-vs- the amount of connection you have.
One of my Positive Psychology classes was on the topic of Loneliness and I wanted to share with you some of the information I learned. According to studies out of UCLA by a researcher named Matthew Lieberman, 1 in 4 people feel they do not have anyone close enough to share a personal problem with. This is so sad, especially in our world of "Social Media".
Loneliness not only hurts us mentally by making us sad, it increases our mortality by 45%, compare that with someone who is obese and has an increased mortality of 20%. Loneliness is a greater health risk. Isolation triggers an alarm in our body that tells our brain to go into self preservation mode. This mode of survival has been shown to increase the likelihood of an early death.
We need approximately six hours of connection each day for optimal health. When we connect with people our heart rate slows, inflammation is regulated and it has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Connecting with people is paramount to our survival. This research doesn't shock me. As a Christian, I know we were created for relationships. First, with God and then with each other. Thankfully, building meaningful connections doesn't have to take years and years of effort in order to improve your health.
How do you build connection if you are feeling lonely? You need to be intentional. Make a point to strike up a conversation with someone. Greet them with a smile. Keep the topic light and uplifting. Make sure you are actually listening to the other person's response and not just waiting for them to pause, so you can keep talking. Try to have a positive regard for the other person, treat them as you would like to be treated. Be available and be present. Put down your cell phone when spending time with someone. Make eye contact. Build a habit of doing this into your life and you will begin to reduce your feelings of loneliness.
So, make a list of the people you have a high quality connection with or who you want to build one with. Make a point of getting together with them and building more quality connections into your life.
Have a great week! Be well!