Wellness Wednesday:  Will You be My Friend?

By Sophy Mott posted 01-23-2019 12:00 AM


Back in elementary school you may have passed a note or just point blank asked someone face to face to be your friend.  Sometimes those friendships provided lifelong companionship while others offered a relationship for maybe only a few days, weeks, or months.  Over the course of one’s life, you probably have learned the value of those childhood friendships. You have learned that friendship provides company, fun adventures, connection, support and some great memories. Today’s U.S. culture makes it hard to develop and maintain friendships due to family and work demands, mobility, technology, and cultural values. 

Results from a study conducted and released by Cigna in 2018 found that:

  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46%) or left out (47%).
  • One in four Americans (27%) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43%) and that they are isolated from others (43%) and/or that they are no longer close to anyone (39%).
  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20%) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18%). 

In addition to the Cigna study, the former U.S. Former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, warns about the consequences of loneliness.  In an interview on CBS This Morning he stated, “It turns out that loneliness is associated with a reduction in your lifespan that is as severe as the lifespan you see with smoking 15 cigarettes a day."

Increased loneliness and lack of connections increases stress levels which can increase inflammation and lead to higher risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

One of the most alarming results of the study was the finding that Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation of those surveyed.  Given the potential physical and mental health consequences of loneliness it is critical that family and consumer science professionals understand characteristics of Gen Z. 

To help AAFCS members learn more about issues facing this generation, it's hosting the webinar, Teen Trends: Insights on Generation Z, on January 29th at 4:30 EST.  Members can register - for free - using this link! After the 29th, the archive will be available, as well.

In the meantime, challenge yourself to reconnect with an old friend, invite your neighbor over for a cup of coffee, or engage in conversation with the teenager down the streetAct like your life depends on it because it is becoming increasing clear that we as humans need each other and that we need to take care of other.  See you on the webinar.

Thanks to member Michelle Krehbiel, a youth development specialist and associate professor at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln Extension 4-H Youth Development, for this Wellness Wednesday! We want to hear from you! Email your submission to fcsfit@aafcs.org

In good health,

Sophy Mott
director of affiliate and member programs