The health risks associated with a lack of human connection are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Yikes. That’s not good news—and there’s more bad news in the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” There he shared the plethora of health risks associated with a lack of human connection: high blood pressure, heart disease, dementia, anxiety, diabetes, and depression. It’s not all bad news though. To turn the loneliness epidemic around, the report suggests a national strategy to advance social connection that’s based on six pillars.
Now, I have done zero research and don’t have the space to write a 50+ page document, so I came up with a pared-down version. It’s only three steps, and you (not the national government or community agencies) can implement them immediately.
1. Connect to God. God is the one who formed us, made us, and wants us to be in his family for now and forever. Yet because we can’t see him with our eyes, our relationship with him is the one that’s easy to neglect both when life is great and when life gets overwhelming. So prioritize your connection with him, because that connection will fill you with the only permanent source of hope, peace, and joy.
Listen to him. Read his words in the Bible and meditate on them. Devotions are good too because those writers can help explain what God says.
Talk to him. Whether it’s out loud, in your head, or in a journal, keep a conversation going throughout the day.
2. Connect to people. One of God’s best blessings is other people. He designed us for meaningful relationships. Though the surgeon general’s report doesn’t give God and his relational design credit, it does share that friends play a role in our physical and mental wellness. So be the one who intentionally makes a difference. You can start with something simple:
Ask a coworker to go out to coffee or take a walk at lunch.
Invite the new family in your neighborhood over for dinner.
Welcome the college student into your home Bible study.
Work together. Help a friend fix his car. Ask him to help with refinishing your basement.
Look for someone sitting by themselves in the bleachers and strike up a conversation.
At church, walk up to a stranger and say, “I don’t believe we’ve met before.”
3. Connect people to God. All the connections in the world won’t matter if the people around you aren’t connected to God. All the health benefits they might enjoy from human connection are temporary. They need the eternal blessings that are already available to them now, thanks to Jesus.
Pray for them. If they don’t believe in Jesus, pray for opportunities to share the good news. If they do believe in Jesus, they’re already part of the family and it’s still your privilege to talk to their Father about them.
Talk about your faith. Give God the credit for the good things in your life. Talk about how he gives you strength when you’re struggling.
It might feel overwhelming, but really these are only three things. And God put you in your specific time and place to be a blessing to the people around you. I’m excited to see his people make a difference.
Linda Buxa is a self-serving writer who highly recommends you subscribe to the Grace Moments devotions to help connect you to God.