Despite having an abundance of social media around us, somehow the loneliness factor is higher than it ever has been before.
Loneliness, or lack of feeling connected to others is becoming an independent risk factor for all causes of disease. This factor gets worse as people age. How can this be possible? A majority of us spend hours on the Internet, social media outlets, phone messages, continually contacting with others all around the world. Yet, the actual in-person contact between human to human has decreased.
We have everything at our fingertips from dating apps, to friendship apps, blog sites, chat forums, even telemedicine now. If you think about it, eventually we won’t ever have to leave our houses if we don’t want to.
The thing is, how can we be mindful of staying present and connecting to our world around us despite technology advances? Mindfulness is more than being in the same room with someone else. It involves putting down the screen, including our phones, and being more present. Mindfulness is about using your five senses like listening, paying attention, looking into someone’s eyes when they speak, and providing genuine emotion so the person feels cared for.
The same can apply during an doctor’s office visit — connections are interrupted with a computer screen in the room between a doctor and patient.
Connecting with others involves not hiding behind a computer screen, as it is harder to be your genuine self in this case. In fact, many people resort to cyber-bullying even at a young age because they can say mean things they would never have the courage to say in person, or pretend to be however they like.
Social media depicts people in a skewed way, similar to a how a magazine depicts the way a person “should or shouldn’t” look. Social media allows you to show only your best side, to share only the positive things that are happening, no one wants to show it all. This factor contributes to even more loneliness as it is natural to compare yourself to the glorified version of others.
To truly connect means to be vulnerable, there is so much strength in this.
When you admit fault, and non-perfection, you allow yourself to feel comfortable in your own skin. When others see you being comfortable, they relax and feel at ease also, and there in lies a true connection between two real humans.
I challenge you this week, to make a new connection with someone. Ask them how they are doing, and where did they grow up, and what did they do over the weekend? Don’t just pretend to care about others, I challenge you to actually do it. Life isn’t about how you present to the world, it’s how you show up for others.
The little things you do daily to uplift the people around you matter. So put down the phone, close the computer, hide your remote for a few hours and go outside, be in nature, and meet somebody new.
Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic Doctor at Tree of Health Integrative Medicine clinic in Woodinville, WA. To learn more go to www.treeofhealthmedicine.com or call 425-408-0040 to schedule.