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The Entangled Human: Health & Resiliency
We are indeed social beings whose well being and resilience is entangled with our human community. Excerpted below are two recent and interesting articles from Scientific American that speak to the value of social connectivity. Is it not naive however, to assume such social connectivity to the other than human world is any less vital to our well being and resiliency?
Here is David Abram on this, from his essay, Speaking with Animal Tongues:
We still need that which is other than ourselves and our own creations. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human. . . .
Groups as Therapy?–Socializing and Mental Health
Membership in lots of groups–at home, work, the gym–makes us healthier and more resilient…
Membership in a large number of groups was once thought to be detrimental because it complicated our lives and caused stress.
Now, however, research shows that being part of social networks enhances our resilience, enabling us to cope more effectively with difficult life changes such as the death of a loved one, job loss or a move.
Not only do our group memberships help us mentally, they also are associated with increased physical well-being.
When the Economy Is in the Red, Are People Really in the Pink?
A recent study finds that economic expansion could be worse for your health than a downturn, revealing a possible upside to today’s recession
Unemployment reached 23 percent and the GDP shrank by as much as 14 percent, so it’s hard to imagine a silver lining to the tumultuous years of the Great Depression. But could the general health of the U.S. population actually have improved when the nation’s economic fitness took multiple nosedives? And, if a floundering economy improves longevity, what does this say about our current recession?
It turns out that the bleakest years of the Great Depression, as gauged by GDP and unemployment rate, saw the greatest gains in life expectancy and drops in mortality rates. And during the years that the economy perked up, the nation paid the price in terms of health, according to a study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…
…social support has slipped in recent history. For one, the average size of the U.S. household is smaller now than in the 1920s and ’30s. Also, a 2006 study in American Sociological Review found that the average person now has a smaller number of people in whom they could confide than folks typically did 20 years ago. Greater isolation among U.S. citizens could make us more vulnerable to economic stresses, and thereby to greater peaks and valleys in health, Tapia says, citing a body of research showing that people who are integrated in their communities tend to enjoy a greater degree of protection against premature mortality.
Surely, as we open to and re-member the larger social networks of Life out of which we arise and are embedded within… our well being and resilience will respond with the reciprocity that all life is woven of.