Reach out and touch someone: the importance of companionship for mental health

We live in a digital world.  Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...  This is fantastic technology and it lets us connect with people across the globe and stay in touch with distant friends and family.  Unfortunately technology has a side effect.   It can make it very easy to lose actual human contact.  

We are social beings and we need contact to survive.  

As a former biologist I often view patterns through the natural world.  Rhinos are incredibly complex creatures.  Sadly, they are often poached for their horns and this leaves baby rhinos orphaned.  These little orphans will actually die of a broken heart if left alone, so rescue workers pair them up with another animal, like a goat (watch video).  What I'm saying here, is that we all need our own "goat" or we can die emotionally and quietly from the inside from loneliness and a broken heart.

In my practice the thing I hear most often is how lonely people are.  I think this is especially true in Silicon Valley where we are surrounded by technology and high pressure jobs that take us away from people. Have you ever experienced a pang of loneliness when browsing Facebook? You're there looking for connection, and instead you see that everyone else seems to have fun, active lives with lots of friends. You base your value as a human being on the number of people who have friended you.  On Twitter you can actually purchase followers! I think people do it because they are lonely and want to feel loved. That's what I'm talking about.

Today, put down the computer, turn off your smart phone and reach out to someone.  Call an old friend or family member. Take your neighbor some flowers or bread as a holiday treat. Hug someone. Just make contact with another being.

I promise, you'll feel better.