Social connection is now more important than ever

Stress, immunity, and genes

The clue may be found in a particular pattern of gene expression in human immune cells called the Conserved Transcriptional Response to Adversity, or CTRA.

Loneliness worsens the cellular inflammation and compromises immunity — which then erodes health, and that, in turn, adds to social isolation.

A disconnect with self and others

Chronic stress has a particular aftermath in our daily lives.

Loneliness: a silent and deadly epidemic

In a pandemic like Covid-19, self-quarantines, remote working, and the call for social distancing — while crucial for dealing with the virus — put us at risk for even greater isolation and loneliness.

Relying on the most valuable well-being asset we have — each other — let’s start a pandemic of belonging instead.

The wisdom of our biology

When we heed the call of our innate need for belonging and reach out, connect to, and care for others, our biology responds in kind.

Responding to crisis with the power of social connection and community

When we pause and look past the panic, we realize we are powerful. Even while working from home and engaging in physical distancing, we can take small or big steps to contribute to our collective well-being. Here’s how.

  • Use technology in a way that reflects our human values for caring and connection. Create and participate in online communities that support and give to each other. Text, call, or video-conference with friends and colleagues. Check in on elders (remember, they are doubly at risk from the virus and loneliness) in your family and neighborhoods. Get creative with your work teams and make time for virtual teas, meals, and celebratory gatherings.
  • Leverage the power of emotional contagion through social networks. Yes, panic spreads like wildfire, but so do positive emotions and acts of kindness. When we observe a kind act, we experience a burst of happiness termed “elevation.” This makes it more likely that we, in turn, and then our friends — up to three degrees of separation — will pay the kindness forward.