The Importance of Social Connectedness

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2023) defines social connectedness as “the degree to which people have and perceive a desired number, quality, and diversity of relationships that create a sense of belonging, and being cared for, valued, and supported.” In other words, social connectedness relates not only to having established connections, but it also relates to the level in which those connections elicit feelings of belonging, value, and support. Obviously, everybody has varying preferences related to who they interact with – the number of interactions, the quality of the interactions, and the diversity of the interactions can be personalized and entirely unique to the individual. Essentially, the feeling of social connectedness is entirely subjective; there is no “magic number” of friends or interactions that everyone must reach. Rather, as long as one feels socially connected, then they truly are socially connected.   

That being stated, it is vastly important that we achieve and maintain some form of social connectedness. There is an incredible array of benefits that doing so can provide.  

Social connectedness is beneficial in that it:  

  • Can help with recovery from pre-existing depression and anxiety 
  • Increases self-esteem 
  • Elicits greater empathy, trust, and cooperation 
  • Helps to lower your risk of suicidal and violent actions 
  • Helps promote healthy lifestyle choices (e.g., eating habits and exercise) 
  • Improves sleep 
  • Strengthens your immune system 
  • Can prevent heart disease 
  • Can prevent stroke 
  • Can prevent dementia 
  • Can prevent depression and anxiety 
  • Helps to recover from diseases more quickly 
  • Helps prevent death from chronic diseases 
It can be difficult to improve social connectedness or even establish it in the first place. Here are a few possible points to focus on when working toward desired social connectedness: 
  • Involve yourself in activities and group settings with folks who share similar desires, interests, and values to create a sense of belonging 
  • Continue to talk to your support network when you are struggling or feel disconnected 
  • Be a part of somebody else’s support network – helping others can make us feel connected 
  • Place more emphasis on social connections that are more meaningful and supportive – nurture these relationships to continue to develop your social connectedness 
  • Communicate when conflict or difficulties within support systems arise – communication is highly important to preserve social supports 
  • Remain as physically healthy as possible – being physically present (not just virtually) for activities and interactions with others can foster social connectedness, especially at the start. Activities like having meals together, attending events together, and exercising together can all be highly beneficial 
  • Talk to your primary care provider or mental health clinician if you feel lonely and isolated – they can help you to come up with more effective ways to become more socially connected 

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