When last did you prioritize time with a friend, loved one or make time to assist others? With our busy lifestyles we tend to underestimate the importance of social connections and strong relationships for our health. I'm talking about in person, face-to-face human connection.
A Harvard paper recently detailed how strong social connections and social support influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. In fact a lack of strong relationships increases the risk of premature death just as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The impact on your longevity is even stronger than obesity and physical inactivity!
This week I want to encourage you to actively take some time to reflect on your social connections and any habits you may have. Knowing the risk of neglecting these, is it something you could prioritize more?
When you feel depleted and start to focus inward, remind yourself of the powerful tool you have in your relationships and social connections. In fact this is probably the easiest and most inexpensive health tool you have in your box. Consciously seize opportunities to connect with others and build your relationships. Remember, quality trumps quantity!
As organizations we need to actively build spaces and opportunities for our employees and teams to connect in productive and positive ways. For example we can create welcoming communal areas, social sports, an inclusive culture or a culture of weekly team coffees, mentor programmes or formalised organizational connection and networking events. These simple acts can improve our employee wellness which in turn has a big impact on our organizations performance!
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