‘Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World’ by Vivek H. Murthy, MD.
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy is the 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States. In his groundbreaking book, “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World,” his vast research cites loneliness as the root cause of many physical ailments, including, depression, alcoholism, and opioid addiction.
But just as this book was going to press early in 2020, the United States faced its greatest test in one hundred years as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world. Overnight, the closeness we as humans crave became dangerous and potentially lethal. The expression “social distancing” was added to our vocabulary.
Dr. Murthy maintains that now, more than ever, it is imperative to find ways to meet the crisis together. He offers four key strategies to weather the pandemic and deal with the extreme loneliness we feel:
Spend time each day with those you love. Devote 15 minutes each day to connect to those you love and care about. Reach out, not only to immediate family members, but to friends and acquaintances by phone or video conference.
Focus on each other. Give the other person the gift of your full attention, making eye contact, if possible, and genuinely listening.
Embrace solitude. The first step toward building stronger connections with others is to build a stronger connection with oneself. Meditation, prayer, art, music, and time spent outdoors, all can be sources of solitary comfort and joy.
Help and be helped. Giving and receiving strengthen our social bonds. Checking on a neighbor, seeking advice, even just offering a smile to a stranger six feet away, can make us stronger.
In addition to the key strategies above, Dr. Murthy’s book offers us many insights on how to combat loneliness. The book fills us with hope as we read about the people who have emerged from loneliness to lead healthier and better lives. As another COVID variant rears its ugly head, Dr. Murthy gives the tools to conquer the loneliness that has been thrust upon us.