The Hidden Health Epidemic Nobody Is Talking About (& 6 Ways To Protect Yourself From It)

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Lifestyle, Podcast

I’m an introvert through and through.

A multitude of personality tests that I’ve taken, including the Quiet Revolution test and the Myers-Briggs analysis, have backed this up.

Perhaps it’s genetics or perhaps it’s because I was homeschooled K-12 in rural Idaho. Whatever the case may be, I’m “that guy” at busy conferences who ducks away to my room to go recharge my batteries every few hours – something I can only accomplish by escaping the crowds and being entirely by myself.

I thrive on long walks, multi-hour hikes and extended bike rides – usually alone. I become exhausted at networking events and cocktail parties and often slip away early to sleep, to curl up with a good book, or simply to meditate and breathe.

Even at family events, I can often be found off in some quiet corner reading or strumming on my guitar or ukulele. As a matter of fact, when I was a child, my parents had to coax me, persuade me and yes, even threaten me with punishment, to actually get my nose out of my book and be gracious enough to ever so briefly emerge from my bedroom to say a quick hello to any guests we had at the house, after which I would subsequently rush back to my room and curl up once again with my book (I’d often read until 3 or 4 am and consume several books each day and night!). 

But at the same time, even though I’m completely happy being a loner, I now go out of my way to ensure that (as uncomfortable or unnatural as it was for me initially) I spend plenty of time carving out a couple hours each night for a family dinner and nighttime family rituals, for connecting with old and new friends, for attending networking events, for scheduling plenty of book signings and meet-and-greets, for traveling to crowded conferences and for actively engaging in local church, community and charity events. In fact, if one didn't know better, they might honestly mistake me for a bit of a social butterfly.

So – aside from my desire to not be an arrogant, hard-to-approach, uncommunicative @$$hole – why have I begun to incorporate such a strong emphasis in my life on optimizing friends, charity, community relationships and love?

As it turns out, there is a fascinating link between love, family, social connectedness and relationships and a longer lifespan. I'm about to supply you with a host of practical love tips to include in your own life for a longer lifespan and better health.

After all, owning an amazing body and a sharp mind can all be for naught if loneliness, sadness, inflammation, high blood pressure and accelerated aging are all occurring due to a lack of friendships, social relationships, community, charity and love. This podcast will teach you exactly why and how to include these important components into your own body, mind and spirit routine.

During this solosode, you'll discover:

-How loneliness, or “social isolation” negatively affects your physical health…8:30

  • Becoming more and more of a problem worldwide
  • Correlated with the increased use of “social” media
  • Physicians are simply not trained how to deal with it
  • Can affect anyone, anywhere. Not limited to a particular demographic, i.e. introverts, socially awkward, depressed, etc.
  • Affects a person physically as well as emotionally
  • Ancestral roots of our social needs; “loneliness” meant the tribe had abandoned you.
  • Dunbar's Number:
    • Total # of companions we can effectively socialize: 150
    • 12 people in an “inner circle”
  • Social media is effective for facilitating community but lacks the deep connections you get from face to face
  • We don't know our neighbors by name and by face
  • We're not experiencing relationships the way we're programmed to
    • Signals and “vibes” we give off in face to face

-The correlation between smartphone prevalence and loneliness…16:15

  • Smartphone addiction and social anxiety
  • Kids who spend more than 3 hours per day on a phone are at higher risk of suicide and depression
  • “Not an exaggeration to say the iGen is on the brink of the worst social mental health crisis in decades…”
  • Is it possible to develop personal relationships via an impersonal medium made up of algorithms?
  • Use of email depersonalizes social interactions
  • Emotional intelligence suffers
  • Book: I'd Like You More If You Were More Like Me

-Practical things you can do to fight loneliness…24:12

  • Book: Blue Zones “The power of love”
  • It's more efficacious to give love than to receive love from others
  • Expressing gratitude increases your empathy toward others
  • Altruism: Helping others who are stressed helps with your own stress levels
  • Don't be kind, help others etc. because you think it's going to improve your health; do it because you want to do it.
  • Book: Never Eat Alone

-The chemistry behind face to face interactions…38:20

  • Pacinian corpuscles; travels to the Vagus nerve
  • Release of oxytocin (don't have sex before buying a used car)
  • Seratonin (similar to anti-depressants)
  • Pheromones

-6 ways to enhance your life and longevity with love…47:15

  • Volunteer your time
    • Parents
    • Local schools
    • Churches
    • Nursing homes
    • Coach sports
    • Tutor
    • Deliver meals
  • Throw dinner parties
  • Find Meetups
  • Church activities
  • Renew forsaken family relationships
    • Family conflicts engender anger, bitterness, etc.
    • Direct eye contact significantly helps to communicate in difficult circumstances
    • Acknowledge your faults;
    • Book: The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Green
  • Reclaim real conversation
    • Louis C.K. with Conan: Digital conversations are less empathetic
    • Real conversation begins with solitude and self-reflection
    • Turn off notifications on your phone
    • Apps: Mute, Flipd, Forest

-And Much More!!!

Resources from this episode:

The Hidden Health Killer Nobody Is Talking About (& 6 Ways To Protect Yourself From It)

The Christian Gratitude Journal

Episode sponsors:

Kion Ancestral nutrients, modern molecules, clean energy bars and the purest coffee you'll find anywhere!

Onnit 6 Kettlebell Transformation Program. A full-body, transformative workout you can do in the comfort of your own home in just six weeks. Receive 10% off your entire order from Onnit when you use my link!

MVMT Watches Make your wrist a conversation piece. Take advantage of MVMT's year-end sale and take an additional 15% off your order when you use my link!

WHOOP By wearing WHOOP 24/7, you'll unlock the secrets your body is trying to tell you. Get a $30 discount on your first 6-month membership, which includes the wristband, when you use code: BEN at checkout!

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for me? Leave your comments below and I will reply!

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12 thoughts on “The Hidden Health Epidemic Nobody Is Talking About (& 6 Ways To Protect Yourself From It)

  1. Lori says:

    My son wanted me to listen to this podcast (he listens to you faithfully) and I didn’t realize what a health risk being socially isolated through social media dependence. It’s a little scary because my grandkids are highly succeptible to being addicted to phones or iPads. We catch them playing and downloading games from our devices and it’s a battle getting them away. So thank you for pointing out all the risks on this podcast. I personally don’t have a problem connecting with people. My husband says I can get a life story out of a complete stranger within 5 minutes and I do tend to get in personal conversations with, say, phone salesmen that call or people sitting next to me on an airplane.
    Interesting podcast. Thanks Ben!

  2. Jonatha says:

    I really enjoyed this episode and found it useful. However, have you actually used Scout? I downloaded it, and it’s horrible. It’s like a trashier version of Tinder! That was my impression, anyway. If I’m wrong, please let me know!

  3. Amy Brenner says:

    I don’t see the link for the books about “mastermind dinner” or something like that. Great episode ode . I can do relate

  4. Alison says:

    I just started my Christian Gratitude Journal today. Thank you for creating this as my New Years resolution is to be happier and more grateful instead of focusing on the negative. Interestingly the very first Bible passage was from Psalm 37. My pastor on Sunday spoke on the very same passage Psalm 37:23-26. The entire chapter is amazing but these particular verses are especially meaningful.
    Happy New Year!

  5. Mary says:

    You have inspired me to reach out and be more social. I am an only child, my parents have passed, and only have 2 family members that I’ve never met (Australia and Tasmania). I am very bad at reaching out and making the effort to make connections. But I have followed you since episode 92 and used your advice for the betterment of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  6. Eric says:

    Hi Ben,
    Did you post a copy of the note you used for your neighbors? If not can you post it.
    Thanks

  7. Annette Demeny says:

    I truly do not miss an episode of the Ben Greenfield podcast and have turned my adult children on to it as well! I felt led to post a comment about your recent topic of social disconnectedness. This is a topic I am very passionate and knowledgeable about yet you schooled me on so many levels! I learned a great deal and wanted to say THANK YOU for an amazing hour well spent!!!

  8. Jenny says:

    Ben,
    I really appreciate this podcast episode. I too am an introvert. I am happy, and I work with a great team at my office, However, in my personal life, I mostly spend time alone and with my husband. I am a Christian but enjoy doing Bible Studies and reading spiritual books on my own, I seem to get more out of them on my own than in a group, However, I do sometimes wonder if spending time with more people would be good for me, Even though you seem content on your own, do you find the changes and efforts you have made to spend more time with others have made you happier? Thank you.

  9. Dale AKA Healthnut says:

    Wonderful Ben… Lets be friends….”)
    Seriously, just ordered 3 books. I have always been
    an introvert. Its ironic when I became a leader in the
    Army, I was appreciated for my authenticity and kindness.
    Per say, I didnt fit in well because I treated people kind
    without vulgarity and being “macho”. I volunteered at
    Veterans Homes during the Holidays and its so powerful to just
    give. Something you may see as small will fill the hearts of others.
    Hugs from Texas.

  10. Steve says:

    Incredibly valuable podcast Ben. As a fellow introvert, I can relate and will use some of your tips, Thanks!

  11. Alex says:

    This is so [email protected]#&%^& true Ben, especially when you give genuine kindness, the feedback I receive without expecting anything in return, is the ultimate feeling. Thanks for sharing thus episode. Take Care..

  12. jm says:

    Ben,
    This was refreshing. It transcends every generation and socioeconomic group – and younger folks who never ‘socialized without cell phones’ truly need it! Great reminder for the rest of us. It’s really easy to allow familiar web or e-contacts into our lives without discriminating. We all only have so much time or ‘bandwidth’ and we need to be mindful of nurturing relationships versus virtual ones.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

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