New Research Proves Social Isolation Is Terrible for Your Health

Oh no, we may have taken things too far.

For the folks not following along (tsk, tsk), our accidental theme of the week has been a phrase that we hear and see a lot.

It’s often misunderstood. Most folks don’t know just how powerful it is. And that includes, sadly, yours truly.

The phrase is simple… “Every man for himself.”

We used it to rail against our culture’s growing addiction to government dependency. We used it to show just important it is that we fully trust nobody with our health.

And today we use the phrase to prove there’s an exception to every rule… and there’s always a wise man, even in a room of fools.

Early Death

As we discussed the idea of “every man for himself,” a reader pushed back.

Not so fast, he said, don’t forget about your beloved Connections.

He went on to remind us that by himself, even the best man will fail.

We scratched our head once again, seemingly cultivating a patch for a spreading bald spot.

The reader hit on something huge – the third piece of our Triad.

Our Know-How… our Liberty… they’re nothing without our Connections.

We’ve long believed in the idea, but recent science proves it is far more powerful than even we realized.

If our Connections falter – the research shows – we may get to hang out with the Grim Reaper sooner than we’d like.

Yes, loneliness is now considered deadlier than obesity. It’s the equivalent, some sources say, of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” said Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad as she released new research this summer at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

She and her research team looked at more than 200 studies on the health effects of feeling alone and isolated. Their conclusion stunned the medical world. Lonely people had a full 50% increased risk of death when compared with folks with strong social networks.

Compare that to the 30% rise in early death for obese folks.

“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need – crucial to both well-being and survival,” the study concluded.

“Social” Media Squashes Mental Health

We save for retirement. We eat healthy. We go to the gym. But the vast majority of folks never bother to ponder the health of their social networks.

That’s crazy.

In fact, for nearly half the nation’s elderly population… TV is ranked as their main source of company.

We always said TV would kill you. Now we know why.

What’s most concerning in all of this is that the notion of loneliness has become a cultural norm. It’s now quite easy and culturally acceptable to be on our own.

Marriage rates are on the decline.

More couples than ever are deciding not to have children – a brave decision when they’re young but potentially deadly as they age.

And hundreds of thousands of folks now go to work each day without ever leaving their living rooms or seeing another set of human eyes.

The consequences for our culture are not good.

Since the 1980s, for example, the average person’s social network has shrunk by a third.

As technology advances, we need fewer folks in our lives. It leads to fewer friends… and fewer trusted Connections.

Lots of folks turn to social media to “connect” with their pals. But recent research even shows that idea is wrong.

Just last week, Facebook admitted that social media can harm your mental health. Unless you’re actively posting and messaging with your network, scrolling through social sites does far more harm than good.

Man-to-Man

The solution may seem obvious.

But as we tend to do, we offer a nuanced fix… especially for men.

You see, men don’t respond as well as women to face-to-face interactions. Instead, we do better with shoulder-to-shoulder interactions.

It’s why we volunteer hundreds of hours each year to be around like-minded men… doing like-minded activities.

It’s why we can open the door to our woodshop, sit down with our old man, build something together with few words and walk away feeling much more connected (and healthier).

And it’s why, in Australia, men are flocking to a quickly growing social phenomenon called the Australian Men’s Shed Association. The concept is simple… get men together, working on stuff. It’s attracted tens of thousands of men (it’s gone international) who enhance their social networks by engaging in work that challenges their minds and their bodies.

Little did these men know they were adding years to their lives.

If you’re feeling lonely… if you feel like you’re left out… if you’ve got nobody to talk to… or if you’re using technology to feel connected… we beg you to take action.

Shoulder up with other men.

Your health will thank you. The Grim Reaper will move on to bug the next guy.

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