It’s a funny coincidence that my hometown and the city I currently live in were both divided at some point in history (in the case of Nicosia, it still is). Yesterday, as I was taking a walk in the cold but sunny afternoon, I passed by a spot where the Berlin wall used to stand. There was a small photo exhibition of families and friends torn apart as the wall was being erected. Loved ones remained on the other side. A physical wall divided the city in two. This got me thinking:
What about the mental walls we build around us?
In my work, I support people in improving their sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress and relationships. Many wonder what the latter –relationships- has to do with health coaching. Most of them ask if I do couples therapy (no) and if I can help them with their romantic relationship issues (yes, up to a certain extend). However, in functional medicine health coaching, “relationships” is used to describe social connection – not just with your partner, but with your friends, your community, your network.
What do social connections have to do with my health?
Oh so much. Studies have shown that social relationships can lower the risk of mortality by 50%. Loneliness has been associated with poor sleep and higher stress levels while another study linked low social connection to overall worse physical and mental health. Finally, a recent study conducted in the U.K showed that loneliness is twice as unhealthy as obesity for older people.
I would like to invite you to think about your “wall”: Do you make time to see your friends despite having a lot of work? Do you reach out to those you love, or those who might need you? Do you spend time with your community (your neighbors, your colleagues, your family, your sport club buddies)?
Do you feel connected?
Or have you built a wall around you? And are you sitting behind it, knowing what’s on the other side without reaching towards it?
Even if you do everything else perfectly, you could be missing an important piece of the puzzle. The emotional component of health should not be neglected. As your health coach, I can help you explore it with the help of positive psychology, focusing on your character strengths.
Because it’s really not just about the food (or the yoga class, the meditation, the fitness studio, the 8-hour sleep); it’s also about the state of mind of the body receiving all this.
Social relationships and health. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/241/4865/540
Interview with neuroscientist John Cacioppo. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/feb/28/loneliness-is-like-an-iceberg-john-cacioppo-social-neuroscience-interview
“The we's have it”: Evidence for the distinctive benefits of group engagement in enhancing cognitive health in aging
Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
Social connectedness improves public mental health: Investigating bidirectional relationships in the New Zealand attitudes and values survey
Why Social Relationships Are Important for Physical Health: A Systems Approach to Understanding and Modifying Risk and Protection.
Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy
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