Episode 8 - The importance of social connection for better health - Brigitte Factor Episode 8 - The importance of social connection for better health - Brigitte Factor

Social connection has a significant impact on health outcomes. In this episode, I discuss why social connection and support is important for maintaining our health individually and as a community. I also share the science of heart coherence and how we can positively influence the environment and people around us using our heart energy.

Some of the research I mention can be found linked below:

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Episode 8 Transcript

Brigitte Factor 0:13 Hello, and welcome to the hungry for truth podcast. I'm your host, Brigitte Factor, the truth seeker, researcher, scientist, nutritionist, teacher in truth teller, and awakening is coming. Get ready for it.

Brigitte Factor 0:46 Welcome back to the hungry for truth podcast. I'm so excited you pressed play today and that we could connect through this podcast. Today I have a wonderful episode, I'm going to be talking about the importance of social connection, and its impact on our health. I'm also going to be talking about how we can have better coherence with with each other through our heart and get into the science of heart rate variability and heart coherence towards the end as well. So you're going to be in for a wonderful episode today. But I really wanted to talk about social connection, and the importance that plays on our health because it is surprisingly, more important than diet and exercise. I know shocking, right? social connection and having that social support and our social relationships are a significant determinant of our health. It plays a very powerful role in our lives, and the impact on our health. And I think this goes back to, you know, being able to have that connection, but also the effect that it has on our stress levels, as well. And I've talked about the how stress impacts our health before in previous episodes, so you can go back and listen to that.

Brigitte Factor 2:17 And I also think this is a relevant time to talk about this as well, because of the amount of messaging we are receiving about social distancing, and how to weigh that in light of what's best for us and how to manage that. So I'm going to talk about some of that today. Because it's really important for us to stay connected. And I don't just mean through, you know, a podcast or a website or an email list, I mean, actual face to face physical connection, I'm going to talk about why that is and how that plays a role a little later on. But staying connected and having that support system is important. In it's the absence of social relationships that is defined as social isolation, loneliness, bereavement or conflict. And I don't know about you, but or almost a year into this pandemic. And I'm pretty tired of all of the lack of social connection. My business is done virtually. And I have been doing virtual consults over the internet for many years now. But that has been balanced out with actually having social interactions with people in person as well, previous to this, and now I'm getting to the point where I feel that I'm tired of it, that I'm ready to go back and meeting people face to face. And I've just started back at our church serving in the living free ministry, which is a wonderful ministry. And I'm thankful that our church is so meeting in the living free ministry is a ministry for people that are dealing with strongholds, and we have small groups and we help I serve as a facilitator. I help people navigate that and to use the three tools in that ministry are the Word of God, the Spirit of God and the people of God, because those three tools can help us release those strongholds. Anyway, and so it's been wonderful to get back into that and have that connection with other people like minded people, other believers as well. But what the research is, has shown us or is very clear about it's the absence of those social relationships that causes us to experience stress. It also causes us to increase inflammation in the body, and I'm going to be pulling from a couple of research articles and books, which I will We'll post in the show notes. So you can look this stuff up and research it yourself. But one of the things that the research is showing is that social isolation and loneliness actually up regulate pro inflammatory processes, and reduces immune functionality. What does that mean? It means being lonely, or being isolated, increases inflammation and reduces our immune system's ability to work. Having that social connection is important so that our immune system works the way it's supposed to. And the other thing about being socially isolated is that when you're socially isolated, you have a heightened response to stress. And that stress response feeds that inflammation. And I talked about that in a previous episode before. So what the research has shown is that supportive connection favorably influences the immune system, meaning that having that supportive connection in your life is going to help the immune system respond appropriately and function better. And that's going to be important, any time you're faced with an illness, right? What they've also found is that when we experience disconnection, that increases stress in our life. So specifically, targeted rejection, like going through a divorce or getting fired from a job increases the risk of depression 20 times higher than any other life stress. So, you know, the political social environment right now is very divisive, and very disconnecting. And that's having a negative impact on our stress levels. It's also having a negative impact on our health, and we can all feel it. And I'm going to talk about why we can feel it again towards the end when I talk about heart coherence. But we can all feel it, we're all experiencing it. And other things that have been revealed is that lonely people have a harder time recovering from acute illness. And loneliness and social isolation is linked with lowered immunity. And in most cases, social isolation is a much bigger determinant of health and disease than any other factor. And again, this is what's really shocking to me, because I really understand the importance of diet and exercise and all of that stuff. But being socially connected is also equally important. And in most cases, it's even more important. And so I think it's time to get this message out there, that we need to stay connected, we need to stay connected with our family and our friends and our supportive community. And the Chief Medical Officer of Cigna, Douglas Nemecek, I think is how you say his name and get, again, this is a quote I'm pulling from the research. He said that being lonely has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it more dangerous than obesity. Again, just more evidence that we need to stay connected and be reaching out to people that we know don't have a good support system, especially our older people that have been isolated for a very long time. A study done by the AARP Public Policy Institute, showed that participants who were socially isolated had a 50% higher risk of death. Over the course of the study, again, more evidence that social isolation is not good for us being socially connected needs to be seen as much a part of a healthy lifestyle as eating right and exercising. I think this, in some ways is contrary to some of the messaging we're hearing through mainstream media, that we're supposed to stay distance, but then that causes some people to isolate even more. And it's really sad when we see some of these policies that get put into place that don't take into account the risks involved. We know that mental health issues are increasing dramatically, and that we need to have create ways for people to connect and find that support that they need. social support is the single most important intervention for people who have been traumatized. And I don't know about you, but you know, the way this pandemic is being handled, handled the way this political situation is being handled and handled, it feels very traumatic. And I just feel that need to again connect more with my family and friends and social network, as well. But it's interesting to me as I look at this research to how much of an direct impact this has on our immune health, to have good immune health, we want our focus to be on reducing exposures to interactions perceived as hostile, and that are perceived as non supportive. But at the same time emphasizing and encouraging time with others who are positive or affirming. This is getting harder and harder to navigate. I've pretty much given up on social media for a while, because of the amount of negativity and hate that I see even from people that I've been friends with for quite a long time, it's quite shocking to see that on social media. And you know, for my own protecting my peace, which I've talked about in previous episodes, I've had to back away from that, and really seek support from people. But I also want to be someone who is encouraging and positive as well, putting good positive energy and love out to those around me, you know, how do we navigate this, you know, when we're told that we need to distance to protect ourselves from getting catching a virus, but at the same time, social connection is so important for our health on all levels. And really, you have to find a personalized approach that's going to work for you finding ways to expose yourself to certain social situations based on circumstances and what you're comfortable with, but not letting fear be what drives your decision making. And I talked about the importance of that before. So we, as humans are meant to have a social support circle of somewhat I mean, for as long as we've been human, we have meant to thrive in social community. And that we can see that starting to break down especially as divisiveness takes hold in our community, when we feel less and less supported, less and less connected. And that's not good for us at all. Every human desires to belong to be accepted, I think most of us can relate to the fear of being rejected, that's one of our greatest fears, is being rejected, not feeling loved. And with the negativity that is coming through the media, that is just tapping into that fear, pushing that fear button. If you haven't learned how not to let it push your fear buttons, it's pushing that fear button. And I've done a great deal of work working through some of my own fears. But sometimes my fear buttons still get pushed when I see some of that messaging. And so really, I'm encouraging you to find that social support network for you, whether it's your church, or a life group. So our church has life groups, which are just small circles of people that meet on a regular basis. And I absolutely love my life group, and the opportunity to meet with them face to face worshiping, you know how whenever you worship corporately, you just feel so much more connected. And there's a reason for that some people notice this too, when you go to a concert, and there's a lot of people around and you're all singing the same song, there's this higher level of connection that you feel with the people around you. But in worship, you feel that with the people around you, and you feel that with your, with our God, our Creator as well. And so I'm going to talk about part of why we feel that when I talk about coherence in just a second, but that, that coherence, or that we have when we feel that connectedness to people around us that it's called heart coherence, it happens through the heart energy. In another word for coherence. Or another way to describe coherence is that sticking together or connectedness, you know, if you think of it more mathematically, or musically, it's the harmonious interaction of two or more oscillating sound waves, right. And so the science of heart coherence has done through heart math Institute. And I would encourage you to check them out. They've done a lot of science on this. I am certified as a heart math facilitator, meaning I can teach people how to do quick coherence and other types of techniques to help with coherence. But increased heart coherence results in a deeper connectedness between people and this is an actual thing. If you've never heard of this before, you may be kind of surprising, but it's an actual thing. Heart coherence is an actual measurable thing. And so I'm going to kind of go into that and talk about that right now. But hard rhythms you know, we think of heart rate as our heartbeat, or how many beats we have per minute. And if you put on the the ECG machine, to measure your heart rate, or to measure your heartbeat, you can see the little waves go up and down, like if you've ever seen that at the hospital or on TV when somebody's connected to one of those at the hospital. And you can see the little heartbeat rhythms, right Heart, heart rhythms provide the main sources of rhythmic activity in the body and have the ability to move the entire system toward global coherence. So heart rhythms are actually very powerful. It's not just about how fast our heart is beating, or how much our blood is pumping, there's actually a rhythm that has an impact on the rest of the systems of the body. And as people practice heart coherence and generates an energetic field that makes it easier for others to connect with their heart and create social coherence. So our heart has an electromagnetic field that it generates. So the heart generates the most powerful electromagnetic field produced in the body. You know, we know about the electrical component of the heart, because we can we measure that with that ECG machine. But it's our heart, electrical energy is actually 50 times greater than our brain electrical energy or activity, but the hearts magnetic field is 5000 times stronger than the brains and our hearts magnetic field can actually be measured about three feet away, a person's emotional state can be communicated to the external environment by the hearts electromagnetic field. So that's why when you're face to face or within your, that three feet of space of someone, you can sense their energy if you're paying attention. Or if you've ever walked into the room, when two people were just fighting, and you can tell that there's a negative energy that is putting put out not by just their disposition, or their demeanor or their body language, but it's also being put out by that heart energy as well. And this is really fascinating to me. Because, as heartmath has studied this, the hearts magnetic field in this heart energy or what they call heart coherence, it notices that positive emotions like appreciation, love care, and compassion produces more coherent heart rhythms. And so these heart rhythms are actually we can actually measure our heart rhythms through a technology called heart rate variability. And what heart rate variability is, it's a measure of the beat to beat of the heart. So like heart rate is how many beats per minute. But heart rate variability is the differences in between each beat that time difference between each beat. And what we've discovered is that the heart rate variability plays a role in our fitness levels in our resiliency. So we can use heart rate variability to track our recovery. So athletes do this, that we can use heart rate variability to kind of see where we are with our nervous system in terms of our emotional state. And it can be a measure that tells us how what our stress levels are or what our adaptability is, emotions can have a profound impact on our heart rate variability. So with the heart math, what they look at is, they look at your heart rate variability. And if you're experiencing frustration or a frustrating emotion, that pattern looks very, very different or is incoherent compared to the pattern that is seen when you experience the emotion of appreciation. And we can actually train our heart rate variability, we can train that nervous system component, using some of the heart math tech techniques to improve our heart rate variability, which will allow us to have better physiological resilience are better able to handle stress.

Brigitte Factor 19:29 But what's interesting about this is the more we listen to and follow our heart intelligence, the more balanced and coherent our emotions become. Once we pay attention to that once we pay attention to that heart energy and we understand that our hearts are connected, we can we can have an influence on our environment. If we're walking around, always frustrated or in fear. We are putting out negative signals to the people around us. If we are walking around from an end, viewing the world from a place of love, and grace, and appreciation and gratitude, we are putting out a much different signal to the people around us. Okay? Now, if we are physically distanced, is going to be harder to feel that signal, it's going to make it harder for us to connect on that at that heart level. And I think I think we all can sense that like, meeting via zoom is great when it's necessary. But it is not the same thing as meeting face to face meeting in person. And this heart math research gives us a clue into why that connection happens, or part of why we don't understand all of it. But we understand part of why I think this heart connection is also why social connection plays a role in our overall health. And if you'll allow me to get a little more nerdy with you, and understanding how that all communicates in the body is that our heart rate is regulated by our nervous system. We don't control it. And the vagus nerve is runs through the body, it's one of the cranial nerves that runs through the body, and is regulating responsible for communicating with the heart and regulating that heart rate. That same nervous system is also responsible for our stress response. And it communicates with the brain. So our heart and brain actually are connected through this Vegas nerve, and they communicate with each other, as well. And understanding how our stress response is related to our health, and the impact our stress response has on our health and the inflammation that's produced, we can start to see how that that is also connected to the heart. So again, this is, you know, my perspective, as someone who's trained in holistic and functional nutrition and looking at these things, holistically, meaning that that our systems are connected, I can see how this is all plays a role and is all connected. But going back to the heart and understanding that, for us to be strong and resilient. We need to be connected at the heart. And the message from this research is clear to that if we want to improve our health and resiliency, we have to stay connected with our family and friends, and find our social support groups in our community that we can meet with in person, okay, that doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions, if you are at risk, or have comorbidities or vulnerabilities. But it does mean that we have to find a way that's going to work for us to stay connected. And I love this verse from the Bible, Hebrews 10:24-25, it says, Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. So don't neglect meeting together. reach out for support if you need it. And find that support group that you need or that is going to work for you. You know whether it's your church, or it's your local Fitness Studio, or just a group of friends meeting for coffee, or maybe for you know, whatever reason you still need to meet via zoom, that's fine. or finding a way to meet outdoors. But still, where you can see each other and you know, just be in each other's presence. I think that is very, very important. And I think that's actually going to be beneficial for, for us to again, to stay strong, to stay healthy to stay connected. And what else I like about the heartmath Institute and the research that that they do and understanding how that our heart energy impacts the environment around us and the people around us. We can have a positive impact on the people around us simply by shifting our heart energy shift simply by shifting our emotions and our attitude to a place of gratitude to a place of love. And I am reminded and I pray often, that Lord helped me see people as you see them, help me see them as your child even if we don't agree about anything. That person is still one of your children, and that you love them just the same as you love me. You don't love anybody more or less based on What they believe or what their politics are. And I think we need to come back to that truth. Because if we're going to get out of the situation, the way we get out of that situation, or the way we make a positive impact on the people around us is to walk in that truth of who we are, who we are created to be in that we are all loved, that we are meant to be that love and light to others. So I hope that you have found this interesting, learn something new.

Brigitte Factor 25:31 Again, you can check out the heart math website, I will post those links in the show notes for you to explore some of this information more if you want to do that. I'm also going to invite you to connect with me online, I have an online community called author, the authentic table, and you can join for free there, and I will post that link in the show notes as well. I can't wait until we can go back to where the authentic table is actually us meeting together. I'm looking forward to that. But until then, you know, this online community is a place to interact and have conversation with each other. And I host different events where we can where we can do that. The other thing I wanted to mention is that I am launching a group program at the end of January called finally free. I'm super excited about this program. This program is helping us reframe our relationship with food. And it's using that relationship with food to help us really tap into what it is we hunger for in life. It's really helping us to address the how we use food to fulfill our emotion, emotions, and to dampen that stress and all of that stuff and how we can go about navigating that. So this is going to be another wonderful supportive opportunity to be in a community with a small number of people to help navigate emotional eating and stress eating and those kind of things that we're probably experiencing right now. If you are. So you can check that out on my website. Brigittefactor.com/finally-free and I'll post that link as well. Well, thank you. Thank you for listening. I hope you have a wonderful day. I hope that you can experience and feel that heart energy of love and grace that I am extending to you and until next time, Grace and peace to you.

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