Despite the fact that we know what research tells us about the power of social connections and their positive impact on our mental and physical well-being, loneliness and isolation are a growing problem. So much so that this year, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy published Together: The Healing Power of the Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. I highly recommend this book.
Since we spend the majority of our daylight hours working and, for some, nighttime too, one of the best places we can tackle this chronic issue is with our workplace teams. Forty-three percent of us don’t feel connected at work. Employees often comment on the fact that their colleagues and bosses don’t know much about them, that they lack a human connection.
We need to remember that videoconferencing all day with colleagues is not a replacement for camaraderie. Many of us are recognizing this fact and making efforts to overcome our atrophied social skills due to the pandemic with pop-up gatherings like “friendship clubs” on our own time.
I love that this is happening, yet I would take it one step further. Why not make these efforts on the job too, and with colleagues you normally don’t see?
In addition to considering what you’re doing to make better connections at work, would you join my thirty-day Connection Challenge during the month of August?
- Starting on the first of the month, let’s text or email one person a day we normally don’t contact and check in with them. Tell them how much we care about and appreciate them.
- Next, write down the names of five people you don’t talk to regularly and who you’re willing to call this month.
To further inspire you, I’m sharing an excerpt from Murthy’s book description:
The book we need NOW to avoid a social recession, Murthy’s prescient message is about the importance of human connection, the hidden impact of loneliness on our health, and the social power of community.
Humans are social creatures: In this simple and obvious fact lies both the problem and the solution to the current crisis of loneliness. In his groundbreaking book, the 19th surgeon general of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy makes a case for loneliness as a public health concern: a root cause and contributor to many of the epidemics sweeping the world today from alcohol and drug addiction to violence to depression and anxiety.
Loneliness, he argues, is affecting not only our health, but also how our children experience school, how we perform in the workplace, and the sense of division and polarization in our society.
But, at the center of our loneliness is our innate desire to connect. We have evolved to participate in community, to forge lasting bonds with others, to help one another, and to share life experiences. We are, simply, better together.
The lessons in Together have immediate relevance and application. These four key strategies will help us not only to weather this crisis, but also to heal our social world far into the future.
- Spend time each day with those you love. Devote at least 15 minutes each day to connecting with those you most care about.
- Focus on each other. Forget about multitasking and give the other person the gift of your full attention, making eye contact, if possible, and genuinely listening.
- Embrace solitude. The first step toward building stronger connections with others is to build a stronger connection with oneself. Meditation, prayer, art, music, and time spent outdoors can all be sources of solitary comfort and joy.
- Help and be helped. Service is a form of human connection that reminds us of our value and purpose in life. Checking on a neighbor, seeking advice, even just offering a smile to a stranger six feet away, all can make us stronger.