I heard a podcast the other day that said North Americans have 0.7 friends today. The podcast was from England and was talking about the rise in reported cases of loneliness and depression. To emphasize the point they shared this stat about our lack of in real life friends. From their research we are so socially disconnected from real relationships, connections and friendships with others that it is impacting our health and mental well-being. The irony is that we are also the highest users of social media. It seems an oxymoron for sure. How is it possible for someone to have 0.7 friends, be lonely and depressed and yet have thousands of social media followers?
In many cases I guest this statistic should not be surprising. We live in an age where everyone is constantly on their phone and never looking up from it. We do everything from these little screens including getting a date, ordering food and paying bills. We are living in a time where many social places of the past like malls, restaurants and bars are closing from lack of business. We simply aren’t going out as much as our wild adventure selfie filled timeline suggests. Instead we fill out social media pages with shots of meals and ourselves supposedly having fun. However in reality we are not having fun and we are feeling very alone.
When I travel or go out somewhere where I have to wait it used to be interesting to people watch. It was easy to strike up a conversation and get to know someone in the span of sitting in a waiting room or airport terminal. Today, we don’t do so much of that. In September I was on a train in Utah with 2 friends and it was the morning commuters mostly on it. I sat across from my friends and a young lady took the seat across from me. I commented on her bag stating how incredibly cute it was and she said it was also waterproof. I asked a couple more questions to which she responded and then said she was going to return listening to her phone media, some music or something. She would rather listen to something recorded than engage with a live human. I didn’t take offense at this as we may have run out of things to talk about after discussing her cute backpack but I was sad at this response. If you ride a train to work or take a bus, notice how quiet it really is the next time you’re on it. No one is talking to one another.
Mental Health Awareness
In October there is a week dedicated to Mental Health Awareness. With the rise in depression, anxiety and stress we are feeling and the number of prescriptions for anti-depressants I say this needs more attention. The truth is we can actually self-heal from this situation in large part on our own. Well not technically on our own because it’s going to involve some very old-school socialization.
First I fully recognize there are introverts in the world. There are people who are just uncomfortable in large crowds and noisy places. However, many people are identifying as an introvert simply because we have become lax in our social interactions with others and it’s not convenient. Even introverts have to talk to others and in general we should all be actually talking with one another much more. As in real conversations with real people minus the technology unless it truly is that phone icon we’re using. It truly is sad when you think about the grocery stores even have self-checkouts robbing us of the opportunity to interact with other people!
To add insult to injury just check out what’s in our grocery carts as a result of that situation. When we are depressed we are not typically picking up the veggies but rather the chips and ice cream. Our mental health is critical to our well-being and it impacts our physical health. In a country where we are so friendless we are also obese and depressed. Then we get mad at ourselves for not being able to lose weight so we join gyms where there too we are working out on machines and in classes without talking much to anyone. We mostly have our earbuds in and are staring off into televisions even though there is someone physically next to us on the next machine. You can see how much of a vicious circle this truly is and all because we are locked between our minds and technology.
I think the first step in any change is to physically put down our phones as much as possible. Even if it is to simply people watch everyone else on their phones we need to change our behavior and addiction to these devices. I encourage you to try it the next time you’re in a line, on a commute, traveling, or just at the grocery store.. Look for one other person who isn’t on their phone. Smile at them or give a special wave for being in a special club of real people connecting. As a motorcyclist we give a sign of pointing 2 fingers down at the ground when we see another motorcyclist. It’s a special connection between riders. In this case a smile or wave would be the same thing. Then if you’re ready and there’s a chance try having a conversation with them. Who knows you may actually have a much better time than you would have had scrolling your social media and your neck won’t hurt so much.
Resolution of Reconnection
If you’re resolution this year was to improve your health or even lose weight, one of the key components of that is your mental well-being. I won’t use the cheesy cliche that it takes a village because it really doesn’t but we do need some physical interaction with real people to support this type of resolution. That simple connection with another human being even if it is just a smile or wave changes the chemicals in our brain to the stuff we need (dopamine and serotonin) that in turn supports our physical health.
Amazingly using our words and our body improves not only our physical health but also our mental well-being. You are a whole person so we can’t just tackle one area of your life and expect improvements without addressing everything else in your life. We are interconnected in our being so if one area isn’t doing well the other areas kick in to help it out. By the way that same relationship happens when you start forming friendships and interacting with people. You can call it coincidence but it really is a living proof that we were made to be with others in real life.
If you are a self-proclaimed introvert I challenge you to really look into what that means for you. There are introverts in the world and it’s ok to be one but even as an introvert we must find a way of connecting with others in real life. I often find myself as a mix of introvert and extrovert. I love being with people and having fun and I love interacting with people but I also love time to myself in quiet. It’s good and healthy to want both but we must find a balance of these feelings. Today too much of us are in the solitude of our own minds and phones and feeling like forced introverts. In most cases I believe you will find you are also a mixed and while maybe a little more introverted you need to let your extrovert out some too.
As I worked through this in my own life this is the sequence of natural support I used to help me rebalance my introvert and extrovert.
- Before leaving the house for an errand tell yourself you’re going to not use your phone unless you get a call. (You can ignore texts and social media notifications for a couple hours)
- Apply my special “I Love Friends” roller (recipe below) to your wrists and back of neck
- Take in everything around you on the way to where you’re going. What traffic is like, how busy parking lots are
- When you are at a stoplight DO NOT PICK UP YOUR PHONE! Instead intentionally look at the car next to you. Try to make eye contact and if you do smile and look forward.
- When you are at the store, look for at least one other person to make eye contact with and smile. If the opportunity presents itself, like when standing in line, start a conversation!
Here’s an example of how this works. I took my son to the State Fair and being a kid he wanted to do all the rides and activities. One of the things he did was some climbing, maze type of thing and there were 2 other boys with him also doing it. I saw their mom not far from me so I strolled over and said, “They sure look like they’re having fun.” To which she said, “Oh yes, gotta love that boy energy.” When our children were done with this attraction they raced to the next and she and I followed. We laughed at their fun and silliness and enjoyed about 15 minutes sharing stories around our children. Then she and her boys went on and we went the other way. It was casual. It was light. It was non-imposing. It was a connection that made walking around the fair fun. I found I interacted with other people more easily the rest of the day too. I became interesting to me to see people and connect with them. Try it and see for yourself.
I Love Friends Rollerball
In a 10ml rollerball bottle mix these ingredients:
- 10 drops doTERRA Marjoram (Oil of Connection)
- 10 drops doTERRA Cedarwood (Oil of Community)
- 5 drops doTERRA Balance (Oil of Grounding)
- fill rest with fractionated coconut oil
To get the oils and supplies to make this roller simply click here: dragonspitapothecary.com/I-Love-Friends
I also invite you to join our Members Forum to connect with real people interested in sharing and growing together on the journey of living life more naturally on our terms. It’s free and we talk about some very interesting things.