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Hey, everyone, welcome back to you on purpose. The number one health podcast in the world, thanks to each and every single one of you who come back every week to listen, learn and to grow.
Now, this week, I've been speaking to a lot of you. I've been talking to a lot of my friends. I've been reading comments. And I'm noticing something that a lot of people are struggling with, the mental health at this time, with the pandemic, with the lock down. I know that it's affected so many of us in so many different ways. And so today I actually wanted to focus on how we can experience more love and connection during lockdown, because whether you are surrounded by lots of people or whether you're living alone, we all experience the need for more love and connection.
So this isn't just if you're lonely, this isn't just if you're surrounded with friends, even if you've started reconnecting with a small group of friends and even if you've started quarantining and a small group and getting together again, this is really, really important because for a lot of people, it's been hard to figure out how to reconnect. Right. How many of you are struggling to have just a normal Face-To-Face conversation? Maybe you are, maybe not. But it's so important that we learn how to find more love and connection in our lives, especially post pandemic.
And if you're not listening to this for yourself, remember to listen to it for your friends, your family who may be feeling this way. There may be someone in your life that is feeling this way. So listen to this. According to researchers at Stanford University. Loneliness is the number one reason that people seek therapy today. The number one reason and more and more people are seeking therapy, seeking coaching and seeking community in their lives. And listen to this.
Researchers at the University of Arizona recently administered a loneliness survey to more than 1000 Americans from all 50 states in the U.S. aged 18 to 35. Some of you might actually be in that demographic. Sixty one point five percent of respondents reported feeling mostly socially isolated. And these feelings of loneliness were significantly higher than in similar surveys that took place before the coronavirus locked down. As we can imagine that the lockdown and pandemic brought about that feeling of loneliness and disconnection.
Now some of us are confined with family and wish we could get some alone time, like some of us are craving that alone time. How many of you are raising your hands right now? Shouting, Yes, that's me. You just want some space and like, I need some space, right? I need some space, a confined space, my own house, if you've been surrounded by lots of people and others are spending most of their time alone and like, oh, I wish I could be with someone I know people wanting to go and visit their family.
And I mean, Rodley, for example, would have loved to have spend more time with our family at this time, but we couldn't go back to London to actually do that. And I know my wife's missing her parents a lot.
So today I'm going to talk about the two levels of loneliness and what you can do to feel more connected and fulfilled in your life. If you're ready right now, I want you to take a screenshot, because this is where it gets deep so you can get in with me. I want to be able to take notes. If you're listening while you're walking a dog, you're on a jog or you're running or you're in the gym or you're cooking. Thank you so much again for being here.
Let's dive right in. Now, in many ways, single people and people who live alone are actually doing better during this time than they're married or partnered counterparts. Right. For some, having a partner or family who they live with provides a social outlet. But loads of marriages are struggling. Relationships are struggling. The stress of on and off lockdown's financial issues and spending tons of extra time together is actually driving some couples apart. And if you're in that group, then I definitely want you to stick around.
If you've struggled. And I had a lot of my friends open up to me and say how much they've struggled during the lockdown with their partner and me and Rodney definitely did in the beginning, too, because we used to be in different countries quite often. We're used to both travelling a lot. I'm used to being out of meetings all day and we start to realize that we were both inside our apartment and we just had to set new barriers. So I remember in the first couple of weeks we had to set new expectations about who was going to do what when, you know how we left the living room or the lounge or the workspace, you know, which area was work and which area was social.
We had to do that. I'm sure you've been through a lot of this as well. But listen to this. In China and Hong Kong, according to the BBC, once locked down, restrictions started to lift. The number of people filing for divorce began to skyrocket. Now, some of. Who rushed out and filed for divorce later changed their minds, so that's a reminder not to be too hasty in making major decisions during a stressful time. Sometimes when we are experiencing stress or pressure.
We don't make the best decisions for ourselves.
The best decision is a decision that you felt is true for you for some time, not a decision that you just felt was right for you yesterday. And that's a great way of knowing whether the decision is right for you, if you felt for a long time that you just need to move.
I've been speaking to my friends who live with a lot of family, and they've known for some time that they need to move out, that they need to pay their own way. And lockdown is made that really clear for them. And so when they were asking me, like, do you think this is right? I was like, well, have you felt this way before, before the lockdown? Has this been a decision in your life that had some sort of a seed before the lockdown?
Because all the lockdown has done is amplify what was already there? Right. Lockdown hasn't created new issues. It's amplified issues that may have already existed that we glossed over or didn't notice as much.
So the point is, while we might think that those living alone and singles have hit hardest during times of isolation, that's not necessarily true. And that's not taking away from someone's pain of being alone. But it's also recognizing that there are challenges being surrounded by people.
So here's something that would surprise a lot of you, according to Dr. Ellie Akim Kiselev, I hope I'm saying that right. A professor of public policy and government at Hebrew University and the author of Happy Singlehood The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living. The narrative that Cobbold people have it easier during lockdown could be largely wrong. In an article in Psychology Today, Kiselev writes that many singles have fared well socially during these initial months of isolation. And that's because while they were isolated physically, they were not isolated mentally.
And those are the two levels of loneliness were going to talk about today, loneliness caused by physical distance and loneliness caused by mental and emotional distance. And I'm going to give you strategies and tactics for how to address both so that you can feel more connection in your life. A minute ago, I told you that loneliness is the number one reason people cite for seeking therapy today. Right. Like I just mentioned that to you. But guess what? This isn't a new phenomenon.
That statistic has been true for years. In many ways. I think of the virus as that great amplifier. If you have underlying problems in your relationships, the lockdown and other stresses are amplifying and magnifying them. If you are feeling lonely before, you're probably feeling even more lonely now. Or maybe you weren't feeling lonely before. You weren't aware of feeling a lack of connection because you were so busy with your job and all of the activities you had going on.
But now that those things are canceled or postponed or you've been laid off work or are just physically isolated, more so you're realizing that you feel socially disconnected. Loneliness doesn't just feel bad, creates real problems. Dr. Vivek Murthy, former surgeon general of the U.S. in twenty seventeen, wrote this. During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes. It was loneliness. Murthy went on to write, The impact of loneliness on health was similar.
Listen to this. Wait for it to if you smoked 50 cigarettes a day. How crazy is this that the former surgeon general of the U.S. in twenty seventeen said that during my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes, but loneliness.
The impact of loneliness on health was similar to if you smoked 15 cigarettes a day. Conversely, according to my associate director for Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research, the opposite is also true. If you feel you have strong connections in your life, you have 50 percent greater chance of living longer.
It's about how you feel about what's in your life. It's not necessarily about who is in your life or how many people are in your life. It's about how you feel about the people that are there. It's about how you feel connected to them. Right. So sometimes we start thinking about like, you know, is it because I don't have enough people in my life? Is it because I need more people in my life? It's actually not that.
It's how we feel about the people that currently exist in our life. How do you personally feel about your closest friend? Or if you had to ask yourself, who's my closest friend, what would the answer be? Right. When you think about how you feel about that role, that person plays whoever they are, that's going to be the one. That makes the big difference. I just want to give a shout out to everyone who's coming back to the podcast week after week and always trying to improve the same way, I know you always actively trying to learn and improve yourself mentally.
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So let's look at the definition of what it feels to feel connected, UC Berkeley's Greater Good magazine describes social connectedness as the feeling that you belong to a group and genuinely feel close to other people. Many researchers say that social connectedness is a core psychological need for us to feel fulfilled and happy. Yet according to data from YouGov, 30 percent of millennials report always often feeling lonely. That's 10 percent more than Gen X and 15 percent more than baby boomers. 27 percent of millennials say they have no close friends.
That's a lot of people.
Now, if you fall into that category and you're listening right now, you're not considered a loser, right?
Look, I think that's the issue that we built up around having no friends, that we also view not having lots of friends as a weakness, as opposed to just realizing that it takes time to build trusted relationships.
It takes time to be friends with people that are good people. It's not something where you just want to be surrounded by lots of fake friends. Who wants fake friends, right? No one wants that.
So by now, you're probably thinking, I get it, joy. Loneliness is bad for me, but how do I stop feeling it? So let's get down to the real strategies for erasing loneliness and feeling more connection in your life. Let's start by addressing loneliness caused by physical distance. That's level one of loneliness.
You want to connect with others, but you can't because of physical restrictions and guidelines of fear that you will become sick or ill. You feel physical loneliness. You either have people in your life you're close to, but you feel disconnected from right now because you can't get together with them in person or maybe your friends and family you connected with. But you want romance and it's hard to meet someone in lockdown when it comes to ways to connect with loved ones during lockdown.
Lots of newspapers and media sites have been offering suggestions. So I'm not going to spend time recounting all of them. Lots of us have been having zoom dance parties and game nights and watching movies or whatever it is. What if you're one of those people who, because of all the distractions at work and how busy you were before lockdown, you didn't realize how much you lacking in social connection and you just haven't met those friends or that part. And you deeply connect with and now with all these restrictions, you feel like that's going to be impossible.
All around the world, people are feeling similarly. And as a result, they're coming up with some pretty creative ways to connect. Now, this is a story that I love and I can't wait to share with you. When Jeremy Cohen, a resident of Brooklyn, New York, went out onto his roof deck, he saw a strange sight, although maybe not that strange for New York. Anyway, Jeremy went out on his deck as he looked across the way on the roof of another building.
He saw a woman dancing, probably doing a tech talk or something like that right now, even though she was far enough away that he couldn't see the details of what she looked like. Something about the woman appealed to him, right. As Jeremy told CBS News, I saw shining bright light she was happiness in a dark time. Now, I don't know who will fall for that line. Right. It's a great line. Jeremy knew he had to do something to try and meet this woman.
But how? And this is why at the beginning of lockdown, everything was locked down. He went back out onto his deck and as luck would have it, the woman looked over at him. He smiled and waved. She returned the smile and waved back.
But still what to do from there, even in a city with shouting, is a popular form of communication. She was too far away for Jeremy to yell at her. That's where his creativity kicked in. Jeremy wrote his number on a piece of paper, attached it to a drone that he happened to have, and then flew over to her. A short time later, the woman story, Cinderella texted him and they started talking and he was trying to do that literally because of the lockdown.
They couldn't eat to get in the way that people normally do. Instead, they eat set up a small table, Jeremy on his deck and torn her roof, set it with the white linen, got some wine and set up a face time where they shared a virtual toast.
No, no, you're thinking, what about a second day? How do you top that? Now, if that first day wasn't creative enough for the next day, Jeremy did some shopping he bought. Now, I'm not making this up. I swear to you, he bought a giant inflatable bubble on eBay and he got inside it and they went for a walk together picture. She's walking along like normal. And there's this guy walking or sort of rolling, walking alongside her in this big bubble.
But it seems to be working out so far. I mean, we can be reasonably sedentary, is probably never had a guy go to those lands today before. I know I'd be impressed if anyone did that for me, too. So the good news is you don't have to go to those extremes to figure out how to make meaningful connections during this time. Lots of us, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, are continuing to lean on dating apps during the lockdown's use of online dating apps has skyrocketed.
According to the Economic Times, Tinder saw an all time usage high on March 29th with more than three billion swipes around the world. And during a two week period in March, Bumbo experienced a 26 percent increase in usage. Filter Off is a relatively new app which launched just before the virus. As Zack says, he had only a few thousand users enrolled in the video speed dating app, which suggests matches for three minute video dates before covid struck. Then, in just under a month, he experienced a 7000 percent increase in users sign up.
Many people speculate that this phenomenon of video predates may continue after covid. But according to Reuters, a representative from Bumble in the UK said that 55 percent of users surveyed said that they would continue to use video predates to get to know potentials before agreeing to meet in person. That's a good thing, right? Like, I'm actually really happy to hear that because the more we're doing video dates where people aren't just swiping or aren't just texting or aren't just ghosting, if we're actually having FaceTime calls, we're actually talking to each other and communicating, that's actually going to give us a better sign of whether someone's right for us and whether we feel connected to them in the US.
Restrictions vary by state and are changing daily, so an in-person date might be on one minute and off the next. Based on current guidelines, young Australians seem to have found a method that works, according to the Guardian. In Australia, flirting from one point five metres apart across the supermarket aisle is now the new norm, Aussie Jordan Smith told The Guardian. Everyone still needs to go to the grocery store and a cold supermarket in Korona Times is the new place to date.
I've decided this is what Aussie Jordan Smith told us. I've decided this what he's saying. You learn about people's food choices. Are they choosing three reply or to play? It's a whole new level of intimacy for friendships.
There's an app called Quarantine Chat, which connects strangers in quarantine zones around the world for phone chats to combat loneliness. Quarantine chat was created by artist Daniel Baskin and Max Hawkins, friends who have stayed in touch for years through the strategy of random calls.
So those are some ways people are dealing with loneliness caused by physical distance and finding ways to meet new people.
And what about if you already have lots of friends and you're in touch with your family but you still feel disconnected? In a study of 20000 adults, 54 percent said they don't know one person who knows them well.
In a study of 20000 adults, 54 percent said they don't know one person who knows them well. Loneliness is not necessarily being alone. It's the feeling that no one loves you. That is the deepest level of loneliness. So and there's a beautiful statement by Robin Williams on this. I believe I'm just going to find it for your children to bring it up here. I'm just reading this out loud. I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone.
He said it's not the worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.
Now, when you hear that, it just breaks your heart because we can identify and of course, we all loved Robin Williams as well. But that's somewhat, I guess, how he felt.
So if level one is loneliness caused by physical distance level to that deeper level is loneliness that is mental and emotional in origin, that means that no matter who is in our lives or even if they're in close physical proximity, we still feel that we lack worth and value or that no one understands us. Going out and meeting more people on its own isn't going to help that. But I'm going to give you three strategies that will for a lot of us, that feeling of loneliness is coming from a lack of connection with ourselves.
That is the very deepest level of loneliness. When we're physically isolated, when we lose our distractions, part of the anxiety and discomfort we often feel has to do with discovering that we are living with a stranger ourselves. We discover how little we know about ourselves, how disconnected we feel from our own deepest motivations and desires, and that can leave us feeling incredibly lonely.
So that strategy, No one for curing loneliness caused by mental and emotional distance get to know yourself better. It can be even as simple as sitting down with a notepad pen or a tablet or your iPhone and making two lists down. One column is I like and down the other columns I don't like. Again, that sounds really simple. And it is. That's the point. Allow yourself to write down or to type what comes to mind without censoring it.
You might be surprised where it leads you. Maybe some of the things and people you think you like or think are healthy for you. They really on. Have you find a secret passion or hobby you've been busy to to connect with, like you write down? I like drawing and you never draw and you realize there's something you'd like to do more of. So you buy a sketchpad and some pencils or you sign up for an online art class. And there you have to meet someone who also likes to draw.
But even if you don't meet other people, even if you just enjoy this new hobby, you will find something surprising. You will find that even if you're just doing this thing by yourself, even if you're just making time every day or every week or every month to sit down alone with your sketchpad, you will feel less lonely because you'll be connecting with something you truly desire to do. You'll be engaging with something truly meaningful to you. Right. And we've all experienced that before.
So that strategy, number one, get to know yourself better, sit down and make a list of your likes and dislikes. And that includes things or people you want to release from your life or at least spend less time and energy on. And a lot of note here, it's not helpful to tell your dislikes into a rant about some other person. This is about you and uncovering the things that feel desirable and healthy in your life and what feels undesirable and unhealthy.
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Strategy to deal with noticing how you connect with other people, including the people who are currently in your life, are you vulnerable with people? Are you going deep or do your conversations boil down to sharing a bit emojis and memes? Why are you keeping things on the surface and then wondering why you don't have deep relationships where you feel seen and understood? I decline a while back. Who told me? Jay, I feel like all of my friendships are superficial.
Like I know that's the stereotype of guys that we can't talk about deep thoughts and feelings, but I actually want to connect with my friends in a real way. Always seem to talk about sports work and TV shows and the weather. Right. When I asked him if he was being that person with his friends that he wants to be with him, is he sharing his feelings? Is he taking emotional risks with them by being vulnerable? Is he bringing up topics with some depth to them?
He realized he wasn't right. I advised him to pick one or two close friends who he trusts and to try that to try being vulnerable. And he was shot once he leaned into those friendships by taking them to a deeper level. They responded as well. And now he feels like those friends really do see him and value him for who he is. The same can be true with family members. Maybe you complain that your brother or aunt never checks in with you, but do you check in with them?
Are you showing them the kind of relationship you want to have with them?
The real problem is in lockdown. It's lock up. We feel like the issue is that we can't open up our doors to one another. But the real problem is that we can't open our hearts to one another or sometimes even ourselves. Sometimes that's because we think we need to be someone else. We need to be wealthier, to look different, thinner, more attractive, or to be more successful.
But that's just not true. If you want to have deep, meaningful relationships, connect with the people from where you are right now. Related to this is something that Doctor Joe Dispenza said when he was on the show. And if you missed that, it was a great episode. You should check it out. It was episode number one forty one four zero.
So when I was talking to Doctor Joe Dispenza, he said that something we tend to do when we meet people is to sort of bond over hurts. And Carolyn May says something similar, that we often become wound buddies with people we bond in victim space are over things we dislike. As Dr. Dispenza says, it's like, oh, that person hurt you. They hurt me, too. But that's a very low vibrational space to bond in. And it can be challenging to take those relationships that start in this negative or wound space and move them to a healthy, vibrant space.
How many of you have experienced that? Maybe you became really close to someone through a tough time. Maybe you are in a class together and you really dislike the teacher, the professor. They were tough, the class was tough, and you couldn't seem to get anything right. And you and a fellow student became friends and bonded over your dislike of the professor and the class. But as life went on, you started moving on to bigger and better places and more positive mental states.
That friendship kind of felt like you kept pulling you back down. Maybe you always felt bad after talking to that person. Well, they always seem so negative when you were trying to be positive. When we bond in our wounds, it's often difficult to transition those relationships to a healthier space.
So that strategy.
No to notice what you're putting out there, because if you're staying superficial, you may just be getting back where you're giving out. Instead, show people what kind of relationship you would like to have with them. Now, you probably don't want to go all in and tell someone your new deeper secrets. That might be a bit too much, too fast, but be thoughtful about it. It's like dipping your toe into the water to take its temperature and notice, too, if you're bonding in a negative space, because it's probably going to be hard to transition their relationship to a positive one strategy.
Number three, for resolving mental and emotional distance and feeling more connected is to hold out. No, no. You're thinking, gee, you just told me to be more vulnerable, to give more. And I know, but this goes along with that. Listen, I have a friend who's on the dating scene right now, and she's doing social distancing dating, so no physical contact. And she told me, Jase, the weirdest thing now that physical contact is off the table, it's actually a relief.
Like, I'm getting to know people far better than I was before.
It's almost like dating is return to the nineteen hundreds ruled, right. Only without the chaperone, obviously, just for fun. I googled dating in the nineteen hundreds and some hilarious photos came up. People sitting in full suits and big puffy dresses on picnic blankets, eating grapes. I mean sounds like something else is on Instagram and one a man with a big handlebar mustache is giving a woman a very chaste peck on the cheek and she has sort of a scandalized look on her face.
You know, it's kind of the type of dating your parents wish you did, especially as a teen or twenty something. So I know for some of you, handlebar mustache is really back in style.
But, well, my friend said made me think, wouldn't it be cool if courtship was back in? My style and my courtship, I mean, slowing things down, really getting to know each other before jumping in with lots of physical contact. I think that might actually be one of the gifts of this time, that if we're following regulations anyway, we're forced to slow things down a bit when we bring physicality into a relationship quickly. The broader intimacy we have been building can take a backseat to the physical acts and intimacy, and that can actually decrease our chances of a successful relationship in the long term.
We can become quickly distracted by the physical and not see all of who a person is. So look on the bright side of not having immediate physical contact.
Get to know one another better. It seems old fashioned, I know, but not everything that's old fashioned is bad. Intimacy isn't just physical, and it isn't only romantic for friendships. It's like what I said before. Don't put everything on the table up front. Enjoy the process of getting to know one another or for family, enjoy the process of getting to know new things about one another. Those are three strategies to overcoming mental and emotional distance and loneliness and creating deeper, more meaningful connections.
No one get to know yourself better. If you don't feel connected to yourself, some part of you will always feel lonely no matter how many friends you have. Strategy number two is notice what you're putting out there. Are you being superficial or are you willing to go deep with your friends or a potential partner? Right. Really, really. Think about that. And number three is to hold out, slow down. When you meet, people really take the time to get to know them, to invest, to develop a meaningful relationship.
Otherwise, it might just stay superficial or fizzle out entirely. Right. As Ms. Sapelo from Stanford says, the beautiful part about social connection is that it doesn't really matter the number of friends we feel connected to. We can for meaningful connection in our lives with just one other person or even just ourselves. The feeling is subjective. As Seppala says in a TED talk, we don't have control over our external environment. We can't always change how many friends we have.
We can't always change how successful we are, how attractive we are. But one thing we do have control over is our internal state.
I hope you enjoyed today's podcast. Share the insight, the strategy that helped you the most. When you're going to try out tagging me on Instagram at Geddie, please. If you can do this, leave a review on the podcast app. It means the world to me. If you leave a review, tell me what you love about the podcast. I can't wait to be back with you again next week. Thank you for listening. Take care, ICESCR.