The Surgeon General’s Advisory on Loneliness is an eye opening look at the impact of social isolation. Loneliness impacts physical health, mental health, economic productivity, and happiness. Since over 50% of American reported feeling lonely before the pandemic, it’s an issue that we cannot afford to downplay or ignore anymore.
A Look at the Impact of Loneliness
- living alone increases our risk of mortality by 29%
- loneliness increases the risk of heart disease by 29%
- social isolation increases the risk of stroke by 31%
- people with fewer social connections have higher rates of diabetes, heart attack, and kidney disease
- isolation increases the risk of dementia by 50%
- children with positive relationships do better academically
- lonely adults are more likely to experience depression
- murder and auto theft reduce dramatically in connected communities
Clearly we are healthier and happier when we are connected, but what can we do?
Cultivate Platonic Intimacy
What is platonic intimacy? It’s non-sexual relationships. Humans need social connections, and when we expand the candidates away from romantic prospects, we have a lot more options! You could make friends with your coworkers, neighbors, schoolmates, and people you play sports with.
These people can be the same gender, the opposite gender, younger, or older. They can be of any race and religion. If you see them as your fellow humans, you already have something in common to talk about.
Since you’re not out to impress this person or become their partner, you can relax and be yourself. Talk about the things that make you happy, the crazy thing that happened on the hottest tv show, music, cleaning up the neighborhood, spirituality, or ask for advice.
Everyone has something to offer. If you keep an open mind and open heart, it will be easy to see what that is within yourself and other people. Connect to your humanity.
Together we can normalize platonic intimacy and make it a thing again.