Living in the digital age, it seems like we have never been better connected. We can communicate with each other in an instant, wherever we are on the planet. We can find out what’s happening in the world, sign an important petition, hear about events, speak with family across the ocean; we can be linked in – to everything, if we want to be.
Yet, apparently, humans feel more lonely than ever before, with recent UK research by the Red Cross showing that one in 5 people feel lonely. We instinctively know that loneliness isn’t good for our mental health and we’re now aware that it also results in real risk for our physical wellbeing. It turns out that face to face connection with other people is more important for our wellbeing than we realised, with significant impact on our mental health, wellbeing and even our life expectancy.
Connection with nature also has a powerful effect on our health and wellbeing. Academic studies over several decades show that we are genetically programmed to benefit from, and indeed seek, a connection with nature. Most of us enjoy a walk in the woods or an afternoon at the beach, but research shows us that there’s much more to it than that. Regular connection to nature reduces the risk of stress, anxiety, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
We sense the connection between physical and mental health; we know that our emotions, thoughts and behaviour and our physical wellbeing are interlinked. In recent years there has been a lot more understanding of the connections between the ‘microbiome’: the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live on and inside the human body – and our physical and mental health.
Activities that help us to connect with how we are feeling, physically, mentally and emotionally are also good for us. Mind-body practices which focus on movement, breath and sound are consistently shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve pain control, particularly for those with chronic conditions. These practices include yoga, tai chi, qigong, relaxation and meditation as well as art, music and dance therapy.
Wherever we look – connecting is good for us, whether it’s with each other, nature or the amazing body that we inhabit. We need to do more of it! We’re blessed in Dumfries & Galloway with a wonderful natural environment, many community based opportunities to connect with each other and a wide range of practitioners who can support us to find a better connection with our self.
All this connection is interlinked too; connecting with others helps us learn more about ourselves. And when we take time to really connect with the self, we begin to sense how we’re inextricably linked to each other and the wider world in which we live.
By Kerry Riddell
Kerry is hosting the Reconnection Retreat
at Allanton Peace Sanctuary, near Dumfries, in May 2020 with fellow yoga teacher Alyson Tyler.
web: alysonyoga.wordpress.com/retreats/ email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerry: 07502 584530
Alyson: 07579 966151