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.