If sitting is the new smoking, than loneliness is like a 2 pack a day habit. Actually studies show that it has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day…so not 2 packs, but still pretty bad. While the impact of loneliness is worst on the elderly, it’s not great at any age.
When you think about your people, I like to use the analogy of nesting dolls. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re usually made of wood and are beautifully painted.
There’s a large doll on the outside and then several smaller dolls nested inside until you get to a small, solid, center doll.
That small, solid, center doll represents your inner circle. The people who get you. The ones who you call in a crisis and who are the first ones you reach out to when you want to celebrate something. They’ve seen you at your best and worst and love you through all of it.
Then you go 1 layer out. Those people are good friends. Maybe neighbors or members of a group, community or organization that you frequent. They may be folks you have dinner or coffee with periodically and who are great to spend time with.
Another layer out are folks who may be co-workers that you’re fond of or distant family. Another layer out holds friends-of-friends and folks you see occasionally.
You get the analogy and (hopefully) the importance of that small, solid center. Humans are a tribal species – we’re literally hardwired for connection; yet in the busy-ness of life connections are often one of the first things we sacrifice. When was the last time you had a heartfelt conversation with one of your solid center people?
Not only do these connections fill us up emotionally, there’s a proven impact on physical health. As much as we spend time growing and evolving, there are some parts of our human evolution that are always present. Connection and spending time with your people is one of them. Take some time this week to connect to your people – for your health.