We know that social interactions are a fundamental part of human lives. People crave connection because as profoundly social creatures it’s in their very nature to seek company and create emotional bonds. That’s how we are all wired, even those who are loners. Can you imagine a world in which people don’t talk to each other and simply go about their day without interacting in any way with other individuals? It’s hard to picture it even as a dystopian scenario.
Keeping in touch with friends and family and nurturing healthy relationships with the people you care about is essential for your overall well being. Few people think about the link between staying connected and their mental and physical health, yet there is a very strong relation between them. Research has shown that social connections can keep you healthy and happy and improve quality of life.
Loneliness is a serious public-health problem, although we live in a day and age when technology makes it so much easier to communicate and can bring us closer together. Long-term feelings of loneliness have a wide range of negative effects on a person’s mental health, with depression being at the top of the list. It’s no surprise that individuals who are more connected and surround themselves with the right people experience lower rates of depression and anxiety and have a more positive outlook on life in general.
Apparently social connectedness is the real fountain of youth, or at least a drop of water from that fountain, just to temper expectations. Studies revealed that people who have strong social relationships have 50% increased chances of longevity. So, hanging out with friends and family can do much more than make you feel secure, supported and accepted; it can also help you live longer. Of course, the quality of the relationships you cultivate matters. Being in a high-conflict marriage or holding on to toxic friends are detrimental to health and will have the exact opposite effect.
Feeling like you belong and that you’re part of a community is great for your soul, but it’s also great for your body. If you want to stay healthy and keep disease at bay, spend more time with the people you care about and who care about you. Science helps explain how things work. It seems that social connection has a positive impact on human genes, meaning it supports the immune function and reduces inflammation in the body. As a result, it works as a shield against illness and can speed up recovery time.
This is a no-brainer. What’s the first thing you do when you feel low and need someone to cheer you up? You call a friend or you meet up so you can tell him everything about your woes. When you have someone with whom you can share everything and is always willing to listen to you, it’s like having a personal therapist around. Social interactions can help reduce stress levels, improve self-esteem and confidence and make you feel a lot happier overall.