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Loneliness, Connection & Fostering Community

Updated: Jan 11

Two hands reach out for each other on a blue background illuminated by golden light. The title reads "loneliness, connection & fostering community"

Have you ever struggled with loneliness? If so, when did you realize you were lonely? What do you think might have contributed to or caused it? At SEELEDU we believe in the power of community and investing in our local spheres to build connections. Whether it’s on the fields, in the forests or partnering with local schools and organizations, we love helping, developing and fostering connections within our community.

There is an epidemic of loneliness and disconnection around the world.

Research shows that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, about half of U.S. adults reported experiencing measurable levels of loneliness (U.S. Surgeon General, 2023) with similar sentiments expressed worldwide. A survey of 16,000 Germans revealed that a majority of individuals think that loneliness is a big problem in their society. In light of the UK announcing in January 2018 that it would establish a government post to combat loneliness, the Social Democrats’ health expert Karl Lauterbach called for similar action in the Bundesrepublik of Germany. Lauterbach said that loneliness is "as bad for the health of people over 60 as smoking is” (The Local, 2018).

Certain life events or experiences may make you feel lonely. Have you experienced any of the following:

  • Being preoccupied with work and not realizing that you were neglecting friendships

  • Moving to a new area and being unable to find individuals with similar interests

  • Feeling disconnected from your partner, friends or family following the birth of a child

  • Losing a close family member, friend or beloved pet

  • Entering into retirement or a new stage or role of life like university or a new job

  • Weathering a tough break up or divorce

Loneliness can affect anyone, regardless of their background or circumstances.

It can be triggered by various factors, such as the loss of a loved one, major life changes, global and local situations, social disconnection, or personal difficulties. Loneliness is further complicated in the larger sense as people tend to not talk about issues like loneliness as society often places a stigma on admitting feelings of loneliness or disconnectedness, as it may be seen as a sign of weakness or social failure.

As humans, we are wired for social connection, but we’ve become more isolated over time

Social connection is as essential to our long-term survival as food and water. But today, loneliness is more widespread than other major health issues and isolation is a major public health concern.

Social connection is like a garden, nurturing your connections can improve your garden’s health!

Connection plays a critical role in individual, community, and societal health.

Did you know that:

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

  • Living in isolation reduces our chances of survival and social isolation increases the risk for premature mortality by 29%.1,2 (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015.)

  • Poor social relationships, social isolation, and loneliness can increase your risk of heart disease by 29% and risk of stroke by 32%.1 (Valtorta et al., 2016.)

  • Smaller social network size is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and of other diabetic complications including heart attacks and kidney disease.(Brinkhues et al., 2017 & Brinkhues et al., 2018)

Blue background Infographic demonstrating the 4 components of sense of community.
The sense of community has four components. Concept developed by McMillan & Chavis.

Social connection is vital to community health and success.

Social connection significantly improves the health and well-being of all individuals. Social connection reduces the risk of premature mortality. It can predict better physical and mental health outcomes and ease stress. Higher levels of connection can influence health-related behaviors. Connection can even impact educational and economic achievement. Join SEELEDU in our ongoing and seasonal community offerings to improve your overall health and wellbeing, combat loneliness, increase your feelings of connection and foster your sense of community!

What can SEELEDU do for you?

SEELEDU explores the journey of being human and nurtures nature connections for health and well-being. SEELEDU is based in science and grounded in nature. Practicing in ecopsychology and recognizing the mutual compassion and nurturing ability between nature and humans, SEELEDU offers live and online programming, development and learning for holistic, whole-body well-being.

SEELEDU logo of vesica piscis in blue


Brinkhues S., Dukers-Muijrers NHTM, Hoebe CJPA, van der Kallen CJH, Dagnelie PC, Koster A, Henry RMA, Sep SJS, Schaper NC, Stehouwer CDA, Bosma H, Savelkoul PHM, Schram MT. Socially isolated individuals are more prone to have newly diagnosed and prevalent type 2 diabetes mellitus - the Maastricht study. BMC Public Health. 2017 Dec 19;17(1)

Brinkhues, S. Et al. (2018). Social Network Characteristics Are Associated With Type 2 Diabetes Complications: The Maastricht Study. Diabetes Care 1 August 2018; 41 (8): 1654–1662.

McMillan D.W., & Chavis, D.M. (1986). Sense of Community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community (2023). Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.

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1 Comment

Such great writing with terrific research. Bravo and a well spent 4 minute read.

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