Connection | March 19th 2023
"From psychological theories to recent research, there is significant evidence that social support and feeling connected can help people maintain a healthy body mass index, control blood sugars, improve cancer survival, decrease cardiovascular mortality, decrease depressive symptoms, mitigate posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and improve overall mental health."
Martino J, Pegg J, Frates EP. The Connection Prescription: Using the Power of Social Interactions and the Deep Desire for Connectedness to Empower Health and Wellness. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2015 Oct 7;11(6):466-475. doi: 10.1177/1559827615608788. PMID: 30202372; PMCID: PMC6125010.
Social connection is one of the most important things we can do for our whole body health. Though we all have different capacities for how much social interaction we need to feel good in body and mind, all benefit from some level of connection with others.
Since the beginning of 2023, I have significantly increased my engagement with the people in my community. I, along with my friend, Eden, launched a podcast where a majority of the episodes include a conversation with a guest. These conversations and this collaborative project, have broadened my perspective, and significantly increased my level of empathy.
I also joined the women's networking group, Mid-Day Women's Alliance. This group of female professionals and entrepreneurs have been welcoming, authentic, and have already bolstered Yoga Story's presence in the community.
I have not always been in a head space to connect at this level. When I first started my business in 2016, I jumped into networking events without really knowing who I was. I met some great people, but I also learned that I needed to define and refine my business and personal identity. So, after burning out on events that were more energy-draining than energy-giving, I slowed down, tightened my circle, and looked within. I took time to figure out what I was truly interested in and how my interests aligned with who I was both as a yoga teacher and as Jess.
I learned that I had a strong interest in the brain. How movement, breathing, meditation, self-inquiry, and gratitude affect how we think, and the various mechanisms, chemicals, internal and external environments that play a role in mindset (what we believe about ourselves, others, and our relationship the world around us).
Learning about the brain and body is a life-long journey, and a path that excites me! I have a variety of interests and rather than make sacrifices, I am learning and exploring, through trial and error, how to incorporate the many things that bring me joy.
Expanding my circle this year has given me the confidence to continue to step outside of my comfort zone. It's very comfortable for me to teach a yoga class-- it took time for this to become comfortable. In my most recent undertaking, guiding Empowered Mindset Workshops, I am still learning what I'm teaching, and teaching helps hone my practice and knowledge in the area of science-based habits for healthy and empowered living.
This week I guided a virtual 45-minute long Empowered Mindset Mini Workshop for an Atlanta-based company. The workshop focused on self-inquiry, gratitude, mindfulness, mindful movement, and introduced 7 healthy habits. During the workshop, I noticed a deep camaraderie among the participants. They supported each other. They listened to one another. They shared with authenticity and vulnerability. They displayed a level of trust that made my job as a coach easy. And it showed me that though I've been viewing hydration and sleep as the most important of the 7, social connection is right up there with them.
Something I've been practicing this week is asking back to those in customer service, "How are you?" It's simple, and something many people naturally do. I had not always had the energy or foresight or care to ask this question of people I don't know. Do I really want to know how people are doing should they choose to be real with me? I can confidently say that now the answer is an emphatic YES!
People need people, but more than that, people need people to care. It sounds strange to say it, but I've never wanted to care more in my life than right now. Do I have the capacity, knowledge, energy, or resources to help everyone? No. But I have ways to express interest and care, I have ears to listen, and I have a much better sense of my ever-evolving place in this community, my own realm of influence, and the world.
I encourage you this week to ask yourself what you need to feel more connected to yourself and to others?
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