The Key Ingredient That Might Be Missing from Your Well-Being

Here's how loneliness impacts body and mind—plus, three mindful ways to connect with those around you.

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Loneliness—it’s not just an emotion that surfaces from time to time among a sliver of the population. Researchers in the US and UK are now calling it an epidemic that impacts our mental and physical health.

In this video from 2016, the UK’s Mental Health Foundation shares some startling statistics: isolation can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

How Isolation Impacts Our Health

“We are made for community, to be connected with others, in fact we cant thrive in life without good relationships” the Mental Health Foundation says.

Experiencing isolation can place us at greater risk for high blood pressure, poor sleep, and damaged immunity. Fostering relationships, on the other hand, can keep our brains healthy and help us live longer.

“We can all do something every day to change bad patterns, connect with those around us and improve the quality of our relationships,” the Mental Health Foundation says. “Whether it’s the man at the bus stop, the lady who lives upstairs, your dad, an old school friend or a colleague at work, there is someone you can connect with right now.”

Not sure where to start? Here are three mindful things you can do right now:

Three Ways to Feel More Connected to Others

  1. Let go of toxic relationships. As the Mental Health Foundation notes, a toxic relationship can be just as damaging to us as isolation, and lead to distress and mental health concerns. Focus on building strong friendships with people who are willing to support you. Here’s how to find your self-care squad.
  2. Make communication a priority. In our technology-driven world, it’s common to become distracted during conversations or social events, preventing us from truly connecting with others. When you focus on giving your full attention to another person in you’re life, you’re more likely to cultivate close relationships.
  3. Engage with your coworkers. We spend so much of our time at work, but connecting with coworkers can sometimes feel like a challenge. The good news is, you don’t always have to wait for HR or a social group to create a workplace community. There are many small initiatives you can take to bring people closer together, such as having a quick lunchtime running or stretching group, or setting up a mindful community at work.