I've been out and about quite a bit in the last few months. Networking events, hanging out, and just trying to be present. Here's how I think it helped me.
According to an article in Forbes, "loneliness might be a bigger health risk than smoking or obesity." Loneliness and social isolation has a big impact not only on your psychological self, but your physical health! Mind you, most of the research this article points to is centered around geriatrics (hell, I'm almost there myself), but the effects on us as human beings is the same, no matter your age.
"In the last decade alone, physicians and researchers have begun looking deeply into the impact of loneliness and social isolation on health, well being, and mortality, and the data on the subject is overwhelming: a lonely person is significantly more likely to suffer an early death than a non-lonely one."
"And, interestingly, this is true whether the person feels lonely or not."
If it's anything like the other two things, it means that it's a slow, creeping killer, one that you may not notice until it's too late. A meta-analysis of literature on the subject by Brigham Young University and reported on by Time, found that social isolation is pretty much a death knoll—increasing your risk of death by about 30%!
What does this mean to us specifically as freelancers? It means that too much of that part of what we love about freelancing—the doing-our-own-thing part—can be a very bad thing. Just like all wonderful things (ice cream, wine, exercise, pie, vodka… you get my drift), moderation is, of course, the key. We've known this already about food & drink; now we need to schedule in human connection time. If you're not having human contact daily, or at least weekly, something's gotta give.
According to the Time article,
"More Americans are living alone than ever before, and technology like texting and social media has made it easier to avoid forming substantive relationships in the flesh and blood. Yet research shows that relationships can improve health in a variety of ways, by helping us manage stress, improving the functioning of the immune system and giving meaning to people’s lives."
In-person good juju is the key not just to making new connections for growing your business, but to staying alive!
Thanks for reading. Now, set down your device, and go talk face-to-face with another human being. I want you to live!