Connection: The Missing Piece to Wellness

July 11, 2023

Social connections with others are just as important, if not more, than all the other pillars of optimal health.

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What started as a series on the foundational pillars of health has evolved…like most things do. When I started laying out a roadmap for optimal health, the easiest ones to lay out were the physical foundations: 








These are all things we can physically see, feel, and touch. But there were some things missing. Namely, human connection and mindset. Today I want to focus on connection and will utilize a future post to talk more about mindset. 

So, what is connection? 

Connection is a subjective experience of feeling close to and a sense of belongingness with others. And while I do think having pets is also very healing and you can certainly form a connection with them, I am specifically referring to other humans in this post. There was a reason why God didn’t keep Adam by himself. 

Human connection plays such an important role for us when it comes to health. One landmark study, in the Journal of Science in 1988, discovered that lacking social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure. And interestingly enough it’s sometimes lack of social connection that can cause some of those health problems! 

Furthermore, additional studies have shown that strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity, impacts your genes and how those genes are expressed, strengthens your immune system, reduces inflammation, and helps you recover from disease faster. 

Anecdotally, I don’t think we need very much evidence outside of Covid-19 to be convinced how damaging it is to lack connection. Covid-19 shook the whole world, tried to force everyone inside, and we saw a massive decrease in normal social interaction because of it. And what happened as a result? Increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide- that’s what. 

It’s probably a no brainer that loving someone and being loved plays a huge role in our mental, emotional, and physical health. Outside of the obvious, here are some of the biggest benefits of human connection that I found noteworthy:

  1. Laughter.  I know we can laugh when we are by ourselves but more often than not laughter occurs when two or more people are together and enjoying each other’s company. Laughter- such a simple and overlooked way to boost your health. Studies have shown it enhances your intake of oxygen rich air, increases endorphins, stimulates circulation, and reduces stress. 
  2. Purpose. When you intentionally surround yourself with like-minded people, opportunity arises. You begin to find purpose and a passion for life. Research shows that individuals who have a strong sense of purpose have better mental health, increased cognitive functioning, and healthier overall wellbeing. They are also less likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and dementia. Pretty good reason to find your purpose, huh? And what better way than to connect with others. 
  3. Support. As a gym owner I can’t tell you the number of times we have potential clients that don’t sign up because they say their significant other wouldn’t be supportive of them working out. I never cease to be floored by this! Imagine wanting to get healthy and the one person in your life that should support these efforts puts you down and doesn’t want to see you make positive changes. Needless to say,…those with a healthy support system are able to make healthier choices and have better mental and physical health outcomes. They also are able to be more tolerant of stress, and better cope with anxiety or depression. 
  4. Stability. Not much good can come from chaos. And long-term chaos is detrimental to your health. I was in a relationship early on in life that lacked stability and I know it played a massive role in some negative health outcomes. Luckily, I moved on and can now compare it to a very loving and stable relationship and the difference is night and day. Stability will help lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and result in decreased mortality + increased longevity. 
  5. Physical Touch. When I think of health, healing, and physical touch I am immediately reminded of the woman in the Bible that touched Jesus and was healed. Physical touch can be so healing! For starters, it affects neurotransmitters that are released in the brain that reduce stress, like dopamine and serotonin. It has also been shown to calm the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings that talk to the vagus nerve. This can help decrease blood pressure and slow down the heart rate. Many studies have shown the correlation between lack of physical touch and anxiety, depression, and stress. 

With all of this said I think it’s critical to your overall health and wellbeing to analyze the current relationships you have. Do you feel like they bring all of the things listed above to the relationship? If not, you may want to reflect on why you keep that relationship viable. As mentioned above, good relationships can bring you happiness and great health. On the flip side, bad relationships can bring you down and negatively affect your health. I included this post as one of the foundations of optimal health for a reason. And I would argue it’s the MOST important and also one most often overlooked. So, spend a few minutes in reflection today thinking about the company you keep, who is closest to you, and how it positively (or negatively) affects you so you can know better and do better. 

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