Have you ever noticed that the people who have lots of connections to other people seem to be more healthy and happy than those who have few or no connection to others? This is no coincidence.

Connections are the essence of life. At a very basic level, it is our connection to other people that creates meaning in our lives. It is in sharing our experiences with others that we often feel more alive and more connected not only to them, but also to ourselves and our creator. When we feel an emotional connection to another human being, or even a pet, we satisfy one of our most basic human needs.

From Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, we know that one of the most basic and primal needs humans have is the need to be loved and the need to belong to some sort of social unit. This need may be as vital as food, water and safety. One way to satisfy the need for love and connection is through touch.

Oxytocin, commonly called the hormone of love, has a direct effect on blood pressure and heart rate. Oxytocin is released in our bodies when we are hugged, touched and during orgasm. The physical touch of another individual actually makes us healthier and it may even keep us alive.

In Touch the Pain Away, Barbara Denison, a certified holistic nurse, relates the results of a study on women with fibromyalgia. The participants experienced a significant decrease in pain and reported a significant improvement in the quality of their life when therapeutic touch was used as a treatment for managing pain due to fibromyalgia.

A study on touch and infants, published in Research in Nursing and Health, 2003, was conducted in Korea. A group of Korean infants under the care of an orphanage were provided with an extra 15 minutes of stimulation twice a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks. The additional stimulation consisted of auditory (female voice), tactile (massage), and visual (eye-to-eye contact). Compared to the infants who only received regular care, the stimulated orphans gained significantly more weight and had larger increases in body length and head circumference after the 4 week intervention period, as well as at 6 months of age. In addition, the stimulated infants had fewer illnesses and clinic visits.

Touch creates a connection between individuals and it is essential to a healthy life. Beyond touch, we may reach out and create healthy connections in other ways.

Research shows that individuals who have family or friends, who they interact with on a regular basis, live longer, healthier lives. Additionally, their emotional state, their psyche and their brain function remain healthier longer, because their minds, and often their bodies, remain active. Spending time and connecting with other human beings, especially those that you love, like and enjoy may add happiness to your days and years to your life.

We have all heard of elderly couples who, when one spouse dies, the other spouse dies shortly thereafter. There may be many reasons for this. The person who is living may see themselves as incomplete, literally half of the person they used to be. They may feel unneeded and unloved. They may feel that life, their life in particular, no longer has a purpose. They may also feel that they are burden to their children or other loved ones. Although none of this may be true to anyone else but them, the overwhelming sense of loneliness or sadness may simply take over and their will to live may be diminished.

Connections with individuals are not only an important factor in our overall health, they are essential to a purposeful life.

Spiritually speaking, we are all connected on an energetic and perhaps a spiritual level. Many individuals feel that their connection to their creator provides both physical and emotional fortitude, therefore making them healthier and happier. Although there are mixed reviews among individuals about the role of spirituality as it relates to health, there have been several studies that have found an undeniable link.

Studies from Research on Aging, show that prayer, religion and spirituality have been linked to better health, less stress, less hypertension, more positive feelings, less depression, greater psychological well-being and a superior ability to handle stress.

In a Share Guide interview Deepak Chopra, MD, noted author, speaker, and pioneer of the mind-body connection, notes the benefits of yoga and meditation for our health as “stress reduction, better sleep, lower blood pressure, improved cardiovascular function, improved immunity, and the ability to stay centered in the midst of all the turmoil that’s going on around you. Meditation helps you do less and accomplish more.” Deepak refers to both meditation and yoga as spiritual practices where we connect to the pure potentiality that exists around us. In his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he explains pure potentiality as pure consciousness or “our spiritual essence”.

Connections through touch, communication and the many practices of silence are undeniably linked to our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Nurturing these connections in your life will enable you to live a longer, healthier and happier life.

Here are 3 ways to use connections to become healthier:

1. Nurture your connection with people. Have a conversation with a loved one everyday. If they are not available, talk to someone else – the mail carrier, the cashier, a neighbor or anyone you can find. Talking is the most common means of interacting with another human being. Conversations connect us intellectually and emotionally. A great conversation where both parties feel stimulated, heard and connected will serve to raise the moods and vibration of both parties, therefore increasing your health.

2. Reach out and touch someone. When you touch someone a physical and energetic bond is made. The touch may be as simple as the laying of a hand on someone’s arm or touching their shoulder. It may be a quick hug or a long, heartfelt embrace. No matter the length of the touch, both parties receive a physical and emotional benefit, especially when the energy and emotion behind the touch is of a positive and loving nature. And remember, the best way to get a hug is to give a hug.

3. Pray, meditate and breathe. It has been said, “Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when God talks to you”. Connections on a spiritual level and with your creator will make you feel strong, healthy and vital. You may connect by praying, meditating, walking in nature, focusing on a beautiful flower or simply noticing your breath. Making time for stillness in your life is beneficial for your body, mind and spirit. When you feel connected spiritually, you will feel connected to yourself and to others, thereby enhancing your physical health.

Connections are the essence of life. Get connected and enjoy your essence everyday. Now, that’s powerful!

Author's Bio: 

Sue Urda is CEO & Founder of Powerful You! Women’s Network & 2-time honoree on Inc Magazine’s list of 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies. Through Powerful You!, Sue assists women to grow & live rich, powerful lives through network meetings, workshops & building relationships. Sue is the author of Powerful Intentions, Everyday Gratitude (Jan. '08) & Networking & You…Perfect Together. www.powerfulyou.com
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