“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language….No man is an island, entire of itself…”
Just last year, researchers from Brigham Young University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill conducted an analysis to determine the extent that social relationships influence risk for mortality.
In other words, can making connections actually save your life?
Here were the results:
Across 148 studies (308,849 participants), the random effects weighted average effect size was OR = 1.50 (95% CI 1.42 to 1.59), indicating a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships. This finding remained consistent across age, sex, initial health status, cause of death, and follow-up period.
Pretty stunning, isn’t it?
Man, woman, young, old – strong social relationships actually increase our likelihood for survival.
This really got me thinking, as I’m what some may call a “hermit.”
You know you’re a hermit if:
1. Your idea of an exciting Saturday night is sitting on the couch alone curled up with a good book.
2. Your Facebook events invitations are piling up, either awaiting response or just plain expired
3. You pull up your calendar and realize everything in there involves one participant (biking to the grocery store, taking a nap, blogging, playing in the kitchen)
Check, check, and check. Guilty as charged, your honor.
So what’s a hermit to do? I know I don’t want to die early, and worst off, alone.
Here are a few things that I’ve tried that have helped me get out of my shell a bit; I invite you to try a few on if you find yourself ready to make those missing connections in your life:
1. Get Creative with your Play Dates
I’ve had catch-up dates with friends while running errands (walk and talk in the grocery store anyone?) – perfect for those days when you’re trying to squeeze entirely too much in but are overdue for a connection.
2. Schedule Phone calls in your Calendar
I find that if it’s written in my calendar it will most likely get done. It might feel odd “scheduling” a phone call at first but better to feel odd and still make that connection.
3. Enlist your friends to help
My friends know my tendencies to hole up at home, so they reach out to me if they haven’t heard from me in awhile.
Of course you can’t let this become a one way street – that’s just not fair. But I find the nature of a good friendship is one where there is an ebb and flow, and it’s OK for one person to put forth more effort every once in awhile as long as it flows back in time.
4. Remind yourself that social connections are FUN – and what’s life if not fun?
See below. ‘Nuff said.
This is is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.
And I’m finding more and more that the key with anything in life is found in the start.