“To connect to others is a biological need. It ties back to the idea that to be part of a group is adaptive to survival.”
~ The epidemic of loneliness
Loneliness and mental health
- Lonely individuals are more prone to depression (Cacioppo et al, 2006) (Green et al, 1992)
- Loneliness puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline (James et al, 2011)
- One study concludes lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia (Holwerda et al, 2012)
- Loneliness and low social interaction are predictive of suicide in older age (O’Connell et al, 2004)
Loneliness is an aversive signal, much like thirst, hunger or pain.~ John Cacioppo, University of Chicago Psychologist
Loneliness and physical health
- Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)
- The effect of loneliness and isolation on mortality is comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity, and has a similar influence as cigarette smoking (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke (Valtorta et al, 2016)
- Lonely individuals are also at higher risk of the onset of disability (Lund et al, 2010)
COACHING TIP TUESDAY
When you say hello to somebody, you don’t expect them to say, ‘I’m lonely’ or I’m isolated.’ I think that’s where the problem begins. We are not comfortable with statements that are emotionally loaded. The key problem is how do you undo that? How do you all become comfortable with that which is uncomfortable? As human beings, we naturally want that which is comfortable. As we interact on a daily basis, I think it is all about finding that equilibrium.~ Dixon Chibanda
We are more connected (think social media) today than ever before, and yet many of us have never felt more isolated. Alone. Forgotten. Unseen.
And it is not only in our social lives.
Today we are spending more time working than we have in previous years and yet the feeling of isolation in a crowd is a truth for many. And it is harming us physically and mentally (as noted above) as well as emotionally and spiritually.
We as leaders (we as coaches) — as I type this I picture that child on my basketball team who acted out because he did not feel seen at home, in school or even on our team until I learned from experts in this area how I could better meet the needs of this child) — have an amazing opportunity to help our team members heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, by first:
- Observing each compassionately and with love in our hearts
- Truly seeing them for all they are
- Recognizing them
- Connecting with each one on one
- Acknowledging them
- Listening to understand
- Validating them
- And if they do need more help, e.g., mental health services, helping them find the right path for them to access care (with no judgment but rather with heartful caring and gratitude)
Anne Taylor, BSN, RN, is an incredible nurse speaking up about Mental Health & MusiCure – music as medicine and how the arts can humanize healthcare.
And it is Anne who continues to bring this message to the forefront for the betterment of individuals, teams, organizations and society.
Thank you Anne for all you do and all you are.
Never underestimate the power you have to help another heal. Loneliness and isolation is profoundly harming our world and we each can made a difference.
As leaders, with courage and as we acknowledge our own strength and our own vulnerability, we have the opportunity each day and in each interaction to heal those we are blessed to care for and care about.
Doing so will truly change the world.
“Your greatest power is to show love, to receive love and to be love.”
~ Oprah Winfrey
Love is Leadership.