Updated: May 19
Did you know that the month of May is National Mental Health Awareness Month? The first season of my life was spent working as a psychologist with various populations, so it is great to witness that mental health issues are being taken more seriously. Yet, at the same time, it is disappointing to read reports like the one put out by The World Health Organization that state that mental health conditions are increasing worldwide.
The US Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy released an advisory noting the "epidemic of loneliness and isolation". Can you believe that? Loneliness and isolation have reached such highs that it is described as an "epidemic"! The research confirms much of what we already know about loneliness - it is associated with sleep problems and immune changes in younger adults, while older adults experience symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and a shorter life span.
Dr. Murthy’s office stated that social connection can help serve as “a buffer to health problems”.
For years people have used various substances, like alcohol, to give them the "liquid courage" they needed to break out of their shells and take the first step of talking to someone. But it no longer has to be that way.
To facilitate social connections why not turn to something that is easily accessible, has health benefits, and is liked by 9 out of 10 people? That "special something" is chocolate.
I have been using the universally loved comfort food, chocolate, as the focal point in helping others expand their relational connections for the past few years. As a result, I have identified four reasons why studies have shown that people who eat chocolate are more likely to be perceived as friendly and approachable, which thus addresses the issue of loneliness and isolation.
First, chocolate is a mood enhancer. Chocolate releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. When you're feeling happy and positive, you're more likely to converse with others, even complete strangers.
Second, chocolate shows how much you care about someone. How do you feel when someone shares a piece of chocolate with you? The amount of chocolate you share doesn't matter, for the mere act of sharing sends the message that you value the person and their company.
Third, chocolate provides the opportunity to have a shared experience with someone. Sharing chocolate helps to facilitate a shared experience that can cultivate a memorable experience and form a bond.
Last, but certainly not least, chocolate serves as an icebreaker. Talking about food is an easy way to start a conversation. And, since statistics show that the average American consumes 9.5 pounds of chocolate annually, talking about chocolate can be a great icebreaker as it is easy to talk about.
Let’s break the epidemic of loneliness and isolation and have fun creating connections with others using chocolate!
If you are struggling with feeling lonely, disconnected, and isolated, take my class to learn how to change your mindset and gain the tools to develop meaningful relationships and purposeful life in a fun and engaging way with chocolate!