The Key to a Healthy, Happy Life
Human Connection, Eat Greens, and Move.
by Martha Gamboa
We are in the middle of a pandemic. The pandemic has caused uncertainty by changing life all around us: We go out less, we socialize less, we work less, or we do not work at all. Our healthcare workers work way too much. Our families, our friends, neighbors, are adjusting to face coverings and social distancing, and gatherings are limited to a certain number of people. Restaurants, markets, and churches have changed completely from what we knew six months ago. The one constant that was true before Covid-19 and that is true today is that we need human connection. It is a basic need.
My name is Martha Gamboa, founder of www.godosocial.com, a new social networking platform with one mission: to improve health through face-to-face human connection. It is a platform specifically for folks who want to connect, face to face, (responsibly of course) or virtually and engage in meaningful interaction. Our aim is to help people build happy, healthy lives by building social networks and improve the physical and mental well-being of the people in the communities we live in.
Before the Coronavirus
Before Covid-19 social isolation and loneliness were already being identified as an epidemic. There are too many Americans, specifically those who live by themselves, who spend five to ten hours a day without any social interaction, this according to a 2019 Pew Research Center Analysis. The economic cost of such a social ailment was already being tallied in the billions. According to a 2018 study conducted by Cigna, an American worldwide health services organization, in 2018 Americans spent $6.7 billion in health care costs to treat social isolation and loneliness.
Lack of social connection poses a bigger health risk than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure, this is according to a 2004 article written by Dr. Emma Seppala Ph.D., Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, that appeared in the digital magazine Stanford Medicine at ccare.stanford.edu
Prior to founding GoDoSocial I spent 5 years working as personal trainer. I started my own mobile practice and worked closely with clients to improve their physical health and mental well-being through regular exercise. In my role as a trainer, an observation became evident, the health benefits of the interaction that happens when you are doing one-on-one personal training or small group training went beyond the mere physical improvements in health. I noticed more smiles, more sharing, more laughter, and an overall happier demeanor. I felt it too. I love working with people.
More Time Alone Is Not Always Good
We are spending more time working from home and alone. Covid-19 has removed some of the regular forms of weekly interaction many used to depend on, such as engaging with work colleagues, clients, the local barista, or the lady at the cleaners. Perhaps you are retired, and you volunteered. That commitment and social interaction with other volunteers has come to a halt. We know this is temporary, but we miss that social environment.
Of course, time spent alone does not necessarily indicate that one is lonely. As a matter of fact, some, myself included, I enjoy my quiet time. I can reflect, read, or binge on Netflix. For some choosing to be alone is an option. For many it is not. For 35 million Americans, everyday life is carried out alone. Running errands, home projects, meals, watching television, most hours of the day, outside of work if you work, is experienced alone.
If you are an introvert or are feeling lonely Dr. Emma Seppala Ph.D. has an infographic, Connect to Thrive, that appeared in one of her articles, Connectedness and Health: The Science of Social Interaction. She lists 3 ways you can increase social connection. 1. Give, share, support and do acts of kindness for others 2. Take care of oneself, 3. Ask for help.
The feeling of loneliness is not reserved only for those who live alone. It also affects people who are in committed relationships like marriage or a long-term living arrangement. Be mindful of that and reach out to your friends, community, and your church.
In the time of Covid-19 social media platforms like Facebook have certainly helped friends and family and the world stay connected. With borders closed, travel restricted, people were stranded in foreign countries away from home, social media served a great purpose, we were able to stay connected.
Face to Face Human Connection
Human connection cannot be replaced by social media connection. Spending time on social media is not the same as spending time face-to-face with another human being. A “Like” or thumbs up emoji on Facebook should not replace real human interaction.
I would argue that is more important to have five real, meaningful connections than having five hundred social media connections. Having regular, real human interaction is as important for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being as exercise and eating your greens.
If you live alone, I would love to hear from you? Why are you alone? Are you divorced? Widowed? Never married? How do you engage in meaningful interaction? Are you okay being alone? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
GoDoSocial aims to be part of the solution to this growing social challenge by providing a platform for social connection options for people want to do life differently. Log in to www.godosocial.com and register for a 30 day Free trial.
Connectedness and Health: The Science of Social Connection
Stanford Medicine website
Founder of GoDoSocial E-mail her at Martha@godosocial.com
Follow her own Twitter @godosocial1, Instagram @Godo.social & Facebook @Godoso