LONELINESS AND ISOLATION
The Covid pandemic has officially ended; however, we continue to suffer from a different public health crisis of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in America. In her TED talk, "The Power of Vulnerability," Dr. Brene Brown states, "Humans are wired for connection. It's what we are here for, what gives meaning to our lives" (December 23, 2010). The current Surgeon General, Dr. Vivekk Marthy, has raised the alarm about this runaway condition that affects not only the elderly but the younger generations as well. Christina Caron writes that according to a 2021 poll, more than half of Americans are lonely. Young adults are almost twice as likely to report loneliness (Caron, The New York Times, 2023). Loneliness and isolation can negatively impact our health, leading to mental and physical decline. Studies show that the physical impact of loneliness and isolation can include a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults. In addition to the physical issues, loneliness contributes to mental health illness by increasing depression and anxiety. The lack of social connection and loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 60%! (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, May 3, 2023).
In Dr. Murthy's book, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection (2020), he shares some steps to take to increase connection and reduce loneliness.
GUIDED AUTOBIOGRAPHY GROUPS (GAB)
Joining a Guided Autobiography writing workshop has been shown to increase connection with others (Birren & Cochran, Telling the Stories of Life through Guided Autobiography Groups, 2001). You will learn to write and share your life stories two pages at a time. Reading your stories in a supportive, small group helps you to connect and form meaningful friendships and reduce feelings of isolation.
I offer two different five-week workshops (on Zoom or in-person) for groups of 4-6 people). I use Dr. Birren's proven method of Guided Autobiography. In this workshop, you will learn about writing life stories and write a 2-page story each week based on a life theme you will receive, along with sensitizing questions to help bring out your rich memories. You will share your story in your small group and receive supportive, encouraging feedback.
My own story of retirement after a 45-year career in nursing led me into a dark tunnel of loneliness and isolation. Joining
a GAB writing group, and sharing my stories was my compass to show me the way out of loneliness and to help me connect with others.
I also facilitate 3-hour Kintsugi workshops. This Japanese art form repairs broken pottery pieces with gold or silver lacquer. An object's brokenness and imperfections aren't something to hide but to be celebrated as part of its history and beauty. Kintsugi is a metaphor for God's love and grace in our lives. In this workshop, you will reflect on God's healing work. You will experience the physical art and the profound metaphors step-by-step. Workshops are small groups to allow for intimacy and authenticity. You will build connections with other participants in meaningful time together.