The Power of Connection and Social Support
The Power of Connection and Social Support. Wonder why you’re not having the health breakthrough you should be? If you’re like me you:
- Eat a whole foods diet that excludes all commonly and not-so-commonly known inflammatory triggers
- Exercise appropriately throughout the week
- Get 8 hours of sleep and go to bed before 10pm
- Have a strong spiritual practice that includes stress reduction techniques
- Ensure home and workspaces are free of chemicals and environmental toxins
Yet despite making all these wonderful changes, I still had a long way to go. In truth, I was scared, terribly lonely, and had isolated myself to the point of rarely leaving the house.
I was deathly afraid of what others would think of me if they knew what was really going on. My turning point came when I literally had no will to live anymore. That’s when I realized the energy I was putting into being perfectly alone, was the exact same energy that was bringing me down.
In other words, I needed to embrace my humanness by connecting with others.
I believe God put us on this planet to be relational with one another. But what’s happened through our fast-paced, results-driven world is that we think we can go it alone, yet still, end up with a positive result.
The truth is that you can’t have a happy ending to a miserable journey. Personal experience and research back up just how important connection and community are.
A landmark study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, and air pollution.
There are several ideas as to why social support is so important to health. One is that social relationships help buffer the effects of chronic stress by providing emotional support. Another idea holds that social relationships directly influence health through their effect on physiology, behavior, and mood.
This last one is especially telling because we now know that genes impacted by loneliness also code for immune function and inflammation.
When I stopped being so regimented all the time and allowed myself to enjoy a burger or a bit of sugar once in a while with friends and family, I felt better. I also connected with others that had been through similar experiences. That’s when I realized it was the emotional support that sharing my experience with others provided that made the difference.
While it’s true that diet, supplements, and other treatments played an important role, I’d already been doing those things without complete success.
If you’re not having the health breakthrough you’d like, then I encourage you to think about your community and social relationships. Before I started this blog I was terrified of what others would think of me by sharing my story. What I’ve come to realize is that doing so it serves others by giving them permission to do the same.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What kind of community do you have? Do you feel safe sharing what’s going on in your life? Do you feel supported in your social relationships? Keep in mind that it is through sharing your story that we create community, eliminate guilt and shame, and bring about healing.
10 thoughts on “The Power of Connection and Social Support”
Thank you for sharing your story! It really resonates with me. You are an inspiration and give me hope. <3
I definitely don’t feel safe to share my health issues with most. With a diagnosis of ME/CFS, a condition which is misrepresented in the press by calling it “chronic fatigue”, a very misleading and unfair name for the challenge that we are presented with — I often encounter disbelief and also a basic unwillingness to really hear about my experience.
Additionally, I find that when I do share, it often goes in one ear and out the other. People are so uncomfortable in this culture with other people’s problems, esp. health issues which are poorly understood even by the mainstream medical establishment, that they just can’t relate or empathize.
In support groups, there is often a defeatist attitude and an unwillingness to explore and embrace other avenues for healing, apart from pharmaceuticals.
So I definitely feel isolated by not being seen, heard or accepted, and exhausted by the attempts I have made to improve that. On bad days, there is not a single person to call for support. Despite explaining to my few friends that I cannot be in noisy, crowded places, I continue to get mostly invitations to socialize at restaurants and bars — perhaps it’s a NYC thing. I don’t know. But it’s proving to be difficult not to be isolated.
thanks for this post! I agree with it 100%! I am so much happier when I am able to be around other people on a relaxed basis, which is rare. But I’ve noticed that my symptoms are generally more easily tolerated and lessened, and on a bad day, I feel more optimistic that I’ll feel better soon when I know other people are around. It’s simple. Being alone too much is a toxic situation.
Thank you for sharing your story Leigh. 🙂
Wow! After first discovering and reading ALL your posts at the time, and in the months since, I am again encouraged. While your own process is individually unique to you, it more than occasionally echoes and mirrors,and gives me insight into my own. I am so glad I found your blog. Your writings have given some of my experience voice, as it expresses words to explain my own dance with nutritive therapy. I am also appreciative of the power . Thank You for sharing. Your vulnerability often validates my own experiences!!
Thank you Susan! I am so glad my writings are encouraging to you. Keep up the great work! 🙂
This is perfect and what I needed to hear. I’m almost 3 months in on my treatment and it’s still so hard. Especially with a 15 yr old daughter going through the same process. I will read this again and again. Thanks Sami.
I’m so glad this was helpful. You are doing so well. Keep up the great work! 🙂
Thank you for your vulnerability and willingness to share some of your story. Good words.
You’re so welcome Sydney. I’m happy this was encouraging for you. 🙂