Right now, take a minute to think about all of your friends and family. Consider everything you do for one another, from sharing meals and taking weekend adventures to supporting each other emotionally. Sure, there can be some work involved, but recent studies and ancient Chinese wisdom affirm that having these loving relationships not only help us thrive, they can actually add years to our lives!
A report published by the Archives of Internal Medicine found that certain levels of loneliness in people over the age of 60 can predict declines in health, longevity and well-being, and is also associated with an increased risk of death — 45% higher than people who do not identify themselves as lonely. Also, lonely people in the study were much more likely to have limited physical mobility and more difficulty performing routine tasks like personal grooming and housekeeping.
It’s no secret that friends and family play an important role in our daily lives, but the findings from this report take us a step further and pinpoint connectivity between people as the foundation of positive mental health and increased longevity. Connectivity refers to the deep emotional and spiritual connection we feel when we mesh well with other people. The healthy benefits come when we foster deeper interpersonal connections in both medical treatment and in our daily routines: between boss and employee, doctor and patient, or even between strangers.
How to Connect Powerfully with Others
Here are some simple tips to help you or your loved ones cope with loneliness and transform isolation into a bountiful situation!
1. Give a Hug
If you feel emotionally isolated, or just want to go the extra mile in your connections then try giving out more hugs to your friends and family. Human touch has been proven to elicit elevated production of endorphins, growth hormones and DHEA — all of which lengthen your life span. Need another reason? Touch also lowers the levels of stress hormones that can shorten life and attack our immune system.
2. Cultivate Tolerance: Forgive and forget
A great tool to both expand your emotional flexibility and support your longevity is to cultivate tolerance. Tolerance increases our abilities to flow with the ups and downs of life. This way we are less affected by disappointments and traumas and less likely to become upset with other people — traits that make you valuable company through life’s journey. A simple way to cultivate tolerance is to repeat a powerful phrase to yourself in times of stress. For instance, the next time you are challenged, you might repeat the adage “forgive and forget” or “I am letting go” to interrupt the negative emotions and to develop strength of character.
3. Discover Your Passions
A negative and depressing social environment can sap the pleasures from life and create a lonely way of being. If you find yourself in a positive and nurturing situation, do everything you can to sustain it — and leave the negative surroundings behind. Create a more connected lifestyle by getting in touch with your passions. Make a list of projects you want to take on, places you want to visit, and other important interests that you would like to fully explore. Assign each item a number based on its importance to you, from one to five. Now think seriously about how to achieve the most important ones, and work your way down. Once you begin to support yourself and your goals, you’ll begin to feel confident, fulfilled and ready to connect with the people that your new energy will undoubtedly bring you into contact with!