Human connection has been identified by the World Health Organization as a key determinant of health, loneliness is bad for us. Our social support network seems to be just as important as a cardio workout, a kale smoothie or a good night’s sleep. What is a good relationship? It is determined by quality and quantity – the support and encouragement that you feel and the frequency of the connection. We live longer and healthier lives with less heart disease and improved mental health when we live together.
Society has been criticized for creating lonely silos through the increased presence of technology; however, it will be technology that saves our lives and keeps us connected more than ever. Social interaction is hearing a human voice, seeing a facial expression and sensing a common emotion. Interestingly, human touch has not been found to be as crucial to creating solid relationships. Throughout our lives, we use human relationships to raise children, develop purpose and support each other’s independence. Safe and supportive communities will help us live healthier lives where human connection is valued and becomes built-in to our society.
Health Benefits of Human Connection
- Reduced Blood Pressure
- Improved Memory Recall
- Reduced Childhood Obesity
- Better initiation of REM Sleep cycles
- Better moods with less anxiety
- Reduced risk of early death comparable to quitting smoking
- Improved immunity during times of stress
Positive Relationship Checklists
- Respect each others beliefs and opinions
- Communicate about ideas, feelings and thoughts
- Have decision-making equality
- Spend time together while still enjoying personal space
- Be honest but still respect privacy.
This link is a one pager on healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationship characteristics.
How to Increase your Social Connections
- Reach out to a friend who you share a common experience or connection
- Share a meal time conversation about recipes and tastes
- Join a group activity like an online course and meet others with similar interests
- At gatherings, even virtual, listen to what others are saying and respond with interest
- Organize your family photos and share them with your memories
- Find new shared interests with those who are living in the same house as you
- Do a random good deed for someone you care about
Here’s a specific resource for staying connected during Covid-19