The Importance of Social Connection

Date: 01-07-2024

by Prof. Avni Sali AM

Social connection is essential to our health, well-being and long-term survival. 

Worldwide, the epidemic of loneliness presents itself as a major health issue of our times.  In Australia, a 2019 survey showed how overwhelmingly ‘loneliness’ is a major health problem in Australia. (Australia Talks National Survey 2019) 

Together, we can improve social connection and advance our nation’s public health.  

Over time we have become increasingly isolated from our communities and families.  More than other times in history, we are in our homes with immediate family or by ourselves.  We are online – working from home, watching movies, social media, shopping, ordering food etc. without the need to ever see another living person. 

Our face-to-face interactions have diminished as has our attention spans and general overall health. 

In 2018 British Prime Minister Teresa May appointed the world’s first Minister for Loneliness! 

Did you know that lacking connection can increase the risk of premature death to levels comparable to smoking daily?  (Holt-Lunstad, et al., 2010.). 

Research shows that Loneliness and isolation increase risk for: 

  • Premature mortality   (Coan and Sbarra, 2015) 
  • Severity of illness   (Cohen, 2020, LeRoy et al., 2017) 
  • Other 

Combat Loneliness 

  • Unload – share your worries with a confidant  
  • Stay Connected – make time to spend with friends & family 
  • Less time in front of screens, and more face-to-face with people 
  • Reach out to lonely family & friends 
  • Engage in your community – seek group activities, e.g. Men’s Shed 
  • Volunteer  
  • Take up a new hobby 
  • Get a pet (especially a dog)! 
  • Exercise 
  • Get professional help when you are struggling. 

By Prof. Avni Sali AM

Professor Sali is the Founding Director of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine, established in 2009. A highly sought after Integrative Medical Practitioner, Professor Sali contributes to a wide variety of publications in Australia and overseas. As well he is invited regularly to at conferences and workshops both nationally and internationally. In 2016, Professor Sali was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “significant service to integrative medicine as an educator, clinician and researcher, and to professional education.” To learn more about Prof. Sali, click here.