Strong connections = strong health

Updated: Aug 16

Here at The 3pm Box team have a holistic approach to thriving past 3pm. We focus on career, passion, sleep, movement, spirituality, nutrition as well as relationships.


This week we want to focus on the importance of close friends, support groups and communities. Our learning’s from Lost Connections, Johann Hari and The Blue Zone solution, Dan Buettner have prompted us to write about this topic in relation to your health.


For some people, it’s easy to make friends and socialising is a priority, for others it feels hard to prioritise friendships as much as you ‘should’. We’re going to give you some reasons to reflect on the importance of social connections where existing friendships, or cultivating new friendships, attending social events and time with family sit within your priority list. You may find that after you learn what we share with you, you will revisit social connection as a priority.


Let’s start from the beginning.


There’s an interesting theory about the reason why humans are destined to have a social connections. Human existence started in tribes in the savanna of Africa, where our race only survived because we learnt how to cooperate with each other. We hunted together, shared our food and travelled in groups. If you were to be separated from the group, you were a vulnerable, easily attacked and if you got sick, there would be no one to see you through. Naturally feeling terrible during time in isolation would signal your body to do whatever it took to get back to the group. It would be too much of a risk to and against odds to survive on your own. Retreating is the natural plan; “Humans need tribes as much as bees need a hive.’"


Another trait we continue to see in humans are micro sleeps - a micro second when you wake up whilst sleeping when you’re alone. It’s the bodies natural way to check for danger while you asleep. Animals who are alone and humans that are isolated both have these micro sleeps - another reaction to not feeling safe when alone or isolated. Our bodies naturally feel safer when we’re with other people.

Further research has shown us that loneliness has succumb to a number of negative effects to our health that includes the following:

  • The start of causing a significant amount of depression and anxiety

  • Drives significant stress

  • Three times more likely to catch a cold than someone with multiple close connections

  • Everything becomes more fatal – cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems

  • Causes similar affects to being obese

In a crisis and needing help, who can you turn to? How many people? From decades of studying the number of close people Americans have, we’ve seen a steady decline - from three and more recently, none. Most people have no one they can turn to when in need of support and that includes families. We’re doing and spending less time with our families


If you look at health from a longevity point of view, and we go extreme, looking at the Blue Zones. We see the link between connections and good health. The Blue Zones are the five destinations in the world where we see the highest level of centenarians (people that live over 100). One of the common factors across these five areas are the social connections they have every day. In Okinawa, Japan, moai’s are developed from a young age where children are grouped to go through life with. Originally beginning as a financial support group, the groups have transformed to being ‘someone to do life with’. The author spoke about witnessing these groups where a lady noted that ‘it’s much easier to go through life knowing there is a safety net.’ From children through to adulthood, these ladies have seen each other almost daily having tea, and chatting.


Blue Zone research has shown that the happiest people were also the most connected.

So ask yourself - how are you interacting with your friends and family? Are they a priority? How regularly do you see them? Is this enough time? You don’t have to hang out with everyone, quality counts.


If you’re now wanting to uplevel your existing friendship groups and time with family we have a few tips on ways you can:


Existing friendships

  • Reply as soon as you read their message. Sometimes its easy to read your phone and then put it away, next thing you notice is that three days have passed

  • Make a call while commuting

  • Group lunch/dinner

  • Tag friends on Instagram in inspiring or funny content

  • Send a random text telling them how much you love them and their friendship

  • Buy a small gift online and get it shipped to their home

New friendships

  • Start a conversation with someone at a gym class

  • Go to one of the My Go To Gal events

  • Ask a friend at work to catch up on the weekend for lunch or a hike

Family

  • Monthly dinners – lock them in. For example, first Sunday lunch of the month – whoever is available comes

  • Make a point to celebrate birthdays