A good, deep, healthy and meaningful human connection can go a long way when it comes to alleviating stress, depression and anxiety. It doesn’t matter who it is with, as long as it is a healthy relationship and both parties benefit from the relationship in some way. This part is especially important to me because I personally feel that if, let’s say, I am in relationship with someone – friend, family or otherwise – and I am the only one benefiting from it – whether that is emotionally, psychologically or for some other reason – then I am just taking advantage of the other person. As someone who has been in situations where people have taken complete advantage of me, I know what it feels like and I don’t want other people to feel that way.
Anyway I digress, let’s get back on topic. Many of us have probably had a really stressful day and later have gone and talked about it with someone close, like a friend or a significant other. Later, after talking about it with them, we feel better. Not just that, sometimes the fact that there is someone else whom we can count on is enough to alleviate our stress and anxiety, even if it is by just a little.
But you don’t have to take my word for it; there is actual evidence to back this up. This article from psychologytoday.com, titled, “Connect to thrive,” written by Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D., talks about the importance of social connection and how having good social connections helps us both physically and psychologically, while having none can damage us. It also explains how you don’t have to worry even if you are a loner or an introvert by nature. Why? Because it isn’t about how many friends or family you actually have but how connected you feel with a person yourself. In other words, if you have a deep and strong connection with someone and you really feel it, then you will have the same benefits as someone who has many friends.
Now let’s look at this other piece of evidence, an article from dignityhealth.org calked, “How Human Connection Can Relieve Stress” written by Jeffery B. Young. In this article they highlight three points when it comes to stress and the connections with people.
- Showing a Little Compassion Goes a Long Way: On this point they talk about how people react to each other when they are shown compassion. They talk about two studies, one in which cancer patients who had surgery would recover faster when their doctors were compassionate; and another in which breast cancer patients were shown two videos, one in which a doctor talked to their patient without emotion and another in which a doctor showed compassion and sympathy to their patient. The patients who were shown the second video were less anxious than the ones who saw the first video. They trusted their doctors more and were able to manage their stress better in the long term when their doctors showed compassion.
- Paying It Forward: This point talks about how showing kindness to someone made the receiver more willing to show kindness to others, effectively spreading the love and reducing stress for everyone involved.
- Reducing the Chronic Toll of Caregiving: This point discusses caregivers or people who need to look after disabled people (like Alzheimer patients) on a regular basis. Such a situation can be very stressful and so it becomes necessary for the caregivers to take care of themselves so that they don’t burn themselves out. A study showed that caregivers who attended yoga classes showed lower levels of stress than those who didn’t. The point of this? Showing compassion to yourself is just as important as showing compassion to others.
Then there is this video from Ted talks which also talks about how human connection can help fight addiction.
So, as you can see, having someone whom you care about and who cares about you can really help you out a lot if you are stressed, anxious or depressed. But making a connection takes time and not everyone can connect as easily as everyone else. All you can do is admit that you want help, open your mind to making connections and take your time making them. It may take a while but it will help you out in the long run, in more ways than one.