While listening to one of Wellness Mama’s podcasts today, I learnt about the huge importance of having communities in our lives, and how they impact our health.
Katie and Heather shared how having authentic relationships with friends, family, and loved ones (which they refer to as “communities”) in our lives was one of the, if not most, important attributes to great health.
Some statistics even showed that having supportive, loving, fulfilling communities in our lives was more important than quitting smoking, and twice as important than regular exercise. In fact, a lack of genuine relationships in our lives is actually correlated with a much higher chance of dying with depression! Wow, right!
Why Communities And Relationships Are So Important
In the modern world, we are surrounded by technology. At the touch of a button we have access to SO MANY social networking sites that allow us to connect, and stay connected with thousands of “friends” and communities online around the world. But this sometimes comes at the detriment of real human connection. Many statistics show that having a strong and regular connection with real people is perhaps the most important thing we can do for our health. Not having these strong connections/relationships is linked to early death, higher risk of a heart attack, and much more.
And did you know that we can even be at risk even if we don’t feel lonely! We may feel connected with constant access to social media, but it isn’t the same… Not anywhere close.
Here are some practical ways to foster real authentic relationships in an increasingly digital world.
Building A Community
Loneliness can have serious effects on our health including an increase in the production of cortisol (a stress hormone) and inflammation which can contribute to diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.
In our present-day society it’s easy to get caught up in the daily tasks we “need” to do, and end up not actually connecting with anyone all day long.
Does this sound familiar? I know I’m guilty of this more often than I’d like to admit.
So what are we to do?
That’s a question I’m sure we’re all trying to figure out (let me know if you’ve found a solution!), but here are some simple ideas to get started:
- Schedule a regular catch up or night out with friends and invest time in your social circle.
- Commit to enjoying a regular dinner together to connect and share with family and friends. You could make this shared meal a weekly or monthly occurrence.
- If dinnertime doesn’t suit because of schedules, try a different mealtime (such as lunch or brunch!) or have a snack or tea together when everyone’s home.
- Commit to setting aside an hour or so a day to spend quality time together as a family and just have fun together.
Reforming Our Communities
Research seems to tells us that exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet just isn’t enough when stress is consuming our lives and community connection is non-existent.
I say let’s bring back dinner parties, picnics out in nature, and genuine time off to spend with those you love. Let’s be present. Turn off those phones and give your full attention to the loved ones you’re with.
Here is a quote by Brené Brown that Katie and Heather quoted during the podcast, and which I believe to be a great way to sum up why we as human beings need, or even better, crave, other human interaction in order to live a full, happy, healthy life.
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. 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.”
Social media has become a huge part of how we interact with others today. While this has enabled us to stay connected and form new relationships with people all around the globe, it has also come at a cost. We spend less and less time with friends, family, and loved ones face to face, building and strengthening those relationships that are truly important to us. What’s more, young people nowadays are not learning and practicing the skills needed to communicate and socialise effectively with others on a face-to-face bases. On top of that, we compare ourselves to other people’s “personas” they portray on the internet, which often aren’t true perceptions of their life.
So instead of using social media as a way to form communities and relationships, look to meeting up with friends in person and going on a coffee date, having dinner together as a family, or setting time aside each week or month to catch up with those close to you. This is how you will form true, supportive, and fulfilling communities in your life.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
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What are some of the things you do to build authentic communities in your life? Share them below! It’s such a great way to share ideas with others who are looking to foster authentic communities in their lives.
I wish you all a lovely day.
Wells, Katie. (August 21, 2018). 9 Lessons We Can All Learn From Blue Zones. Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/385588/blue-zones/
Wells, Katie. (October 29, 2018). 200th Episode – Most Important Thing for Health. Wellness Mama Podcast. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/podcast/200th-episode/