Created for Connection

In recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been rising concerns about social isolation and loneliness as public health issues. People are becoming more and more isolated and the lack of human connection is taking a toll on health—increasing the risk for coronary heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, susceptibility to viruses and upper respiratory infections, depression, and other illnesses (1).

Yet we were designed for connection and community. God Himself said it best in Genesis 2:18, “…it is not good that man should be alone.” He designed and created us to be at our best when connected to Him and others. We are relational beings with a need for regular positive social connection in our lives.

In a most fascinating study, researchers at the University of Virginia took 34 students to the base of a hill and fitted them with heavy backpacks. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Interestingly, the students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness than those who stood alone. Even more fascinating is that the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared (2)!

Likewise, the power of social connection on health has been noted to have a dose-response effect. Data from four nationally representative samples found that stronger social connections predicted better blood pressure, body mass, and decreased inflammation and health disorders across the life course from adolescence to older age (3). In fact, no other factor has a greater
impact on quality of life and premature death from all causes.

Busy schedules can prevent us from carving out time to connect with others. Take inventory of your lifestyle habits and the degree of positive social connection in your life. How much time are you spending on developing and maintaining meaningful relationships? Who needs your support? What social groups do you belong to? How many hugs have you given and received today? Virginia Satir, a world-renowned family therapist, once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth (4).”

By enhancing your connections with others, you can improve the quality and length of your life.

Ultreia et suseia! (Onwards and upwards!)

Lilly Tryon, DNP


1. Holt-Lunstad J. (2022). Positive social connection: A key pillar of lifestyle medicine. The
Journal of Family Practice, 71(Suppl 1 Lifestyle), S38–S40.

2. Parker-Pope, T. (2009, April 21). What Are Friends For? A Longer Life. The New York
Times, (D), p. 1.

3. Yang, Y. C., Boen, C., Gerken, K., Li, T., Schorpp, K., & Harris, K. M. (2016). Social
relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,
113(3), 578–583.

4. Davidson, N. (2022, January 26). 50 best psychology quotes: A list of psychological deep
quotes about life.


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