As humans we are not meant to be alone. We work best when we are connecting and communicating with others in a way that is open, honest, and safe. If you are struggling with feelings of isolation or loneliness, you are definitely not alone. The way to feeling seen and known is through connecting with others and forming relationships with them. This crippling loneliness can affect the way we move about our life and may even contribute to mental illness or other health issues. Social isolation can be a hole that is difficult, but not impossible to climb out of. Forging healthy relationships in all aspects of one's life is crucial. As loneliness might be even harder on your body than obesity.
It is important to build healthy, reciprocal relationships in all aspects of one's life. One should not have to feel lonely in any sphere of their life. In this age of social media, email, and excessive telephone communication, finding a social group can actually prove itself to be quite difficult, but it does not have to be! A recent study talks about friends with health benefits. According to the study, adults who are actively social have a lower risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. This study showed the positive aspects of social integration also affected children and adolescents.
It is important to have a community outside the workplace, however workplace friendships may also increase one's quality of life and one's productivity. An article in Workplace Psychology found that having friends in the workplace led to increased job satisfaction, performance, and overall turnover. One way to encourage a community feel in the workplace is to hand out a get to know your employees form. This form may consist of questions involving one's:
This can help people get to know one another, break the ice, or find some common ground. The workplace does not have to be all "work" and no play. In fact, introducing fun into the work space can allow for happier and healthier employees who are then able to work even harder because they are enjoying their lives. Who doesn't want that?!
No sphere of life should be restricted from the pursuit of healthy relationships. Connecting with other humans has other added health benefits like:
Having constant or frequent exposure to a social support system or network has been shown to be associated with lower rates of mental and physical illness. Additionally, diabetes may be able to be better maintained if one is actively participating in social activities. Because type 2 Diabetes is often linked to lack of exercise, becoming involved with social groups who are active may prevent the onset of this disease. Research has also indicated that loneliness is correlated with an increased risk of dementia. Loneliness can be hard on the body, the mind, and the brain. Another study indicated that cognitive decline was linked with a lack of social relationships and/or attachments.
Forming relationships throughout all spheres of life is extremely important for the maintenance of one's psychological health. The work environment is a place where the development of healthy friendships should be emphasized and encouraged. Mental illness has huge consequences in terms of cost, lost workdays, and healthcare spending. Isolation is a huge contributing factor in the development of mental illness. Social isolation may have detrimental effects on the other aspects of one's health as well. Having a reliable social network has been proven to have a positive impact on one's psychological health.