Mindful Strategies for a More Connected Life

The Surgeon General of the US, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has said, “loneliness is a subjective feeling of perceived disconnection,” which reminds me that we may perceive this feeling despite being in a romantic relationship, despite having friends and family, despite having resources and opportunities for connection all around us and of course if we don’t we feel lonely too.

This for me is an incredibly powerful notion because it speaks to the universality of the feeling; loneliness is not reserved for those “unlucky” in love or for the less “privileged.” It is a feeling that we all experience at times, it is part of the human condition. It is also for me a hopeful notion, because perceptions can be changed and so, perhaps we can mitigate our feelings of loneliness and isolation, by reframing our narrative.

It is important to understand that connection and belonging is rooted in our survival. Humans are social creatures and we have evolved to live in community as a mechanism of survival. We are more likely to keep warm when we huddle in community, we are more likely to kill off predators when we are in community, we are more likely to hunt for and find food when we are in community, we are more likely to procreate when we are in community, and when we are not, it feels like a threat to our survival, because from an evolutionary perspective, it is.

This knowing can help us regulate the difficult and distressing emotions that arise when we feel isolated, and in doing so redirect us to the tools that can help us connect.

On this week’s HealthBite, I share some of those tools, and why they are critical to your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

And it is a matter of health. Loneliness is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death. The impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day! Kinda makes you think, well hell, I might as well start smoking then. But before you go there, I want to reiterate that we can cultivate connection in meaningful ways that are right there at our fingertips. So, let’s talk about how….

Increase the number and variety of your relationships. Who might be right under your nose waiting to connect with you more deeply? Perhaps co-workers, neighbors or other potential connections that you have not thought to cultivate?

Increase the quality of the relationships you have. Maybe you reach out to a friend that you have not heard from or seen in a while or call your long lost cousin. Maybe you respond to the friend request of someone you went to high school with or message an interesting connection you made online. I cannot tell you how many interesting connections I have made in online professional groups and the like over the last several years and a handful these people have become dear dear friends.

How engaged are you in your current relationships? Are you present or absent minded. If you do have a partner, do you make time to connect in a meaningful way or are you like 2 ships passing in the night? If the latter is true I get it….but perhaps there is an opportunity there?

How vulnerable are you in your current relationships? Do you share your distress, do you ask for help? The ability to be vulnerable gives permission for others to do the same building upon the quality of the relationships in your life.

Have you thought about strangers? Studies show that we can foster a sense of connection with complete strangers simply but in a way that has profound physical and mental health implications. Examples of this are smiling at the man bagging your groceries, making small talk with the barista at your favorite coffee shop, offering to hold the door for someone following you into the office. These little acts of connection may seem trivial but they positively impact your physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

Remember that you can foster feelings of connection with your pets too. Petting your furry friend, releases oxytocin, the love hormone, in our bodies as well as in our pets’ and facilitates feelings of love, connection and belonging.

Finally remember that connection does not have to be limited to other beings. Studies show that connecting with the natural environment around us has profound physical, mental and emotional healing effects. Take some time to sit outside at a park or near a body of water. Close your eyes and connect with the natural world around you. Remember that we are big but we are also very small, interconnected in this vast vast world.

We may perceive ourselves as alone but we are in fact, all connected. Use our common humanity to reframe the subjective feelings of loneliness. And remember, we all feel disconnected and lonely at some point in time.

If so many of us are all feeling it, then how can we really be alone?

Grateful for all of you connecting with me each week. I hope you have a great week



My mission is to educate, empower and inspire my patients to achieve health and wellness by drawing on best medical practices and a holistic mind-body approach while integrating my personal value system grounded in empathy, integrity and authenticity

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