Relationships aren’t convenient or easy. They take our time, money and energy; but they are priceless.
You may have heard of the coming up on 80-year Harvard Study of Adult Development that followed a cohort of men and their families throughout the course of their lives. The research team (now being led by Robert Waldinger) studied the participant’s physical health, relationships and careers to find the secret sauce to living a happy and healthy life.
After collecting all of the data and notes from the participants, this team reached a conclusion: close relationships in one’s life lead to longevity and happiness. It wasn’t the physical factors, it was the strength and satisfaction in the relationships that individuals hold dear. According to Gallup, “we have stock in other people’s wellbeing”. Not only do relationships impact us but we have an impact on them.
In a study done by Dr. Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University, they exposed over 200 healthy individuals to the common cold virus (don’t worry they knowingly joined the study). The individuals that reported high levels of stress and low levels of social support were more likely to get the virus. Those who had reported the same level of stress but high levels of social support had an extra positive boost against the illness. This is incredible. We have the power to shape people’s health.
We lean on those closest to us to get through unspeakable pain and sorrow and we thrive when we have friends and family to celebrate with us in our achievements. This is vital to our satisfaction in life and our overall health. We are living in the time of the loneliness epidemic. With the boom of social media and the constant connection to the world, people are spending less time together. Photos and written posts are taking place of phone calls and in person meet ups. But social media cannot take the all of the blame, there has also been a shift in culture. According to Psychology Today more and more people are living on their own and are more independent. It has also been reported that most Americans feel as though they lack deep, meaningful relationships. In fact, two in five Americans believe that the relationships they have are not meaningful.
So, where do we go from here?
It is not about the quantity of the relationships it is truly about creating and fostering quality relationships. Maybe you don’t feel like you have that social support in your life, but don’t lose hope because you have the power to change that.
- Reconnect with the friend or family member that you love but rarely get to see. Ask them about their life and truly listen.
- Dig deeper into others success. Help other people realize their potential and in return you will create a stronger bond.
- Become a member of a formal or informal group in the community that you are passionate about. This could be a gym, a group that meets at the dog park or a hiking club.
- Ask a co-worker to grab lunch with you and get to know more about them.
We all need and crave connection with other people. Add years to your life and life to your years by placing social wellbeing as a top priority at work and home.
The Health Management team at Marsh & McLennan Agency places a large emphasis on the Five Elements of Wellbeing: Financial, Community, Physical, Social and Career. We can help you create strategies and initiatives that foster a culture that embraces all areas of wellbeing in your workplace.