- Dr. Katie O'Connor
Can You Hear Me Now? Why creating real human relationships matters more than signal strength
Drive-Thrus, social media, fast food, microwaves, text messages, email, carry out, headphones, television, online shopping. What do all of these things have in common?
Some say technology advances, some say convenience, I say a loss of human connection.
In today’s society one could argue that we have never been more connected, with the advantages of the internet, social media and applications. While we it may be true that we can “connect” with an ease like never before, studies are showing that we are losing our true relationships.
A study out of Stanford Medicine shows that in 2004 a whopping 25% of Americans felt that they had no one to confide in. That means one in four people feels more or less alone in life, despite all the “connecting” we are doing. To put the quick drop in perspective, in 1985 the average person stated that they had at least 3 people they felt very close to. In just 20 years, we are quickly losing our ability to create connection.
So what? So connection alone has a huge impact our health! Studies show that longevity is 50% improved in people who have good relationships, and that people who have no connections have more health damage than caused by smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. Individuals with lower social connection have actually even shown to have higher inflammation at a cellular level. It should come as no surprise that these folks are also more prone to psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
This should matter to anyone hoping to live a long and healthy life, but even more so for those of us that are pregnant. With advances in testing, we are now able to tell that babies experience side of effects of mom’s stress in utero. Levels of stress hormones such as cortisol have been shown to be elevated in mothers who have higher levels of stress, anxiety and poor relationship quality with those around her. In turn, these increases at such an early age often endure all the way into adulthood, shaping who the child will grow up to be.
So what can we do? Sometimes with amount of sheer busyness we have in our lives it can feel like adding any social engagements and other events would just add more stress to our lives.
The exact opposite is true. Statistics from a study in 2017 show that the average American spends just over two hours on social media and nearly four hours watching television EVERY day! So we have about six hours per day that could be used having coffee with a friend, spending quality one to one time with a child or spouse, having meaningful phone conversations with people longer distance or planning a girls weekend away.
The real problem is that we tell ourselves that this type of connection is difficult, takes too much time, and is “selfish”. Yet when we waste our time completely with social media and TV in smaller increments it somehow seems more justifiable. So let’s try something new!
Top 5 Easiest Ways to get some quality connection in your life
1. Plan a quick lunch or coffee date. Even just a half hour to catch up with a friend, have some adult bonding time and laugh a little can make a huge difference!
2. Have a family game night. Spending some quality time with your family will leave you feeling far more connected than spending time on your phones or watching TV.
3. Play the phone stacking game when out with friends - stack everyone’s phone in the middle of the table. The first to pick up their phone loses the bet.
4. Pick a day of the week to talk with a long distance friend on the phone. Make the time to keep up real relationships with those who are farther away.
5. Take a social media hiatus. Or better yet even a technology hiatus. Whether it be 5 days or 30 days, take some time off social media cold turkey. You would be surprised what high value activities you suddenly have time for when not surfing the net.
Let's be more connected and less plugged in in 2020!
Dr. Katie O'Connor is the expert prenatal chiropractor at Life Naturally Chiropractic, an Orland Park, Illinois based chiropractic office specializing in the care of women before during and after pregnancy. Contact Dr. Katie O’Connor at Life Naturally Chiropractic for more information today.
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