When asked to name the greatest threat to our health, many of us would list conditions or behaviors such as poor nutrition, smoking, and heart disease. Yet one landmark study suggests that lack of social connection actually is more detrimental to our health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Even more, recent studies have suggested despite our “connectedness” through social media, true loneliness is on the rise.
Conversely, strong social connection has been demonstrated to increase chance of longevity by 50% by boosting the immune system and helping you recover from disease faster.
Dr. Emma Seppala, director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, writes, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. In other words, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.” Learn more about Dr. Seppala's research and steps you can take to strengthen your social connection here.
Fall in Jackson is a great time to get out and meet new friends, or make time to catch up with old ones. As you discover ways to create or strengthen connections in your own life, remember, it is not the number of social connections you have that matters, it’s the quality of the relationships, or rather your subjective sense of connection that makes a difference.
This Wellness Tip is brought to you by Be Well Jackson Hole, a collaboration between St. John’s Wellness Department and the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. For information, questions or to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian/ Certified Wellness Coach, please contact Torrie Gold, St. John’s Wellness Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-739-7242.