Social Well-Being: Is your busy-ness leading to loneliness?

Social Well-Being: Is your busy-ness leading to loneliness?

Americans love busy-ness. Unfortunately, the pace we keep with our jobs, family obligations, chores and more mean the average person “works” more than 60 hours per week. It’s no wonder people just want to plop down on the couch and veg out when they get home.

The problem is that with all of the busy-ness and all of the plopping, we no longer socialize with our neighbors, friends, or family in truly meaningful ways. This busy-ness, along with an increasing reliance on technology, is affecting our social well-being.

The social fabric of our world has changed. People have begun to seek “a little more peace and quiet” so some have ventured into a slow retreat away from the far-too-frantic world. But that small retreat can begin a drift toward self-inflicted loneliness … saying “no” to so many things in the name of quiet time can lead to a feeling of being left out.

So we do a dance back and forth, a mental tug-of-war between wanting to stay connected and needing to be left alone.

There are also more people living alone than back in the "old days." In the 1940s, living alone was rare. In fact, according to the US Census at that time, only seven percent of households were single dwellers. As of the 2013 census, that number rose to 20 percent.

The significance of this (and why we are telling you about it) is because of the association between aloneness and poor health. Medical researchers agree that socially connected people live longer, have better immune systems and respond better to stress. From heart attacks to dementia, connections matter to your health! This is why social well-being is one of the most important of the five pillars of well-being.

So how do you “fix” these connections that may have started to unravel? Here are a few points to ponder:

  1. Understand that social exclusion (feeling left out/lonely) is a very powerful experience and it can change the way a person thinks, behaves and feels. If you think someone in your area often feels excluded (think about those one-person departments or telecommuters who spend the day alone), make an effort to include him or her in something.
  2. Ask yourself, “Am I retreating when I should be reaching out?” (an interesting sidenote: psychotherapists have noted that many patients were more willing to say they were depressed than lonely)
  3. Talk to your neighbors like they did in the days before garages and privacy fences! Connecting with your home community can make you feel included and safer.
  4. Find out more about social well-being and how it influences your physical well-being.

Have you ever retreated only to find yourself withdrawing too much? How did you climb back? Did your health (mental or physical) suffer? Let us know your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!

Just joining us for this series? Check out the previous article on physical well-being, or head back to the beginning!

Source: The Lonely American