Social Connectivity and Your Health

social connection health

Socials aren’t just for frats and sororities.

Who doesn’t love a good party? Connecting with friends and loved ones is always a great time. But did you know it also has GREAT health benefits? Who said getting healthy isn’t fun?!

We learn social skills in the earliest stages of life. “Please share”, “Keep your hands to yourself” and “Be kind” are only a few phrases that come to mind that are instilled in us at a young age. As a mom of two young boys, I can only hope that all of my “repetitive parenting” will help shape them to be kind and gentle young men – men that have great social connectivity. Because seeing the way my 4-year-old bosses around my 9-month-old makes me hope his social skills lead him to be the leader of a company, and not of a gang in prison….

Anyway!

What does Social Connectivity even mean?

There are many different ways to connect socially. Getting together with friends or family, chatting about other people’s lives, talking through what we are going through in our own lives, or just sharing a drink and watching the big game – all of these are great ways to get social. There have been multiple studies done on the benefits of a socially active lifestyle and they all prove the same thing. There is a positive correlation between social relationships and a longer, healthier life.

Still don’t believe me? Let’s look at social isolation, the complete opposite. Do you think the isolation of something like solitary confinement is good for your health? We’ve seen the movies of the prisoner of war, left alone in a cell – it has serious effects on their body – both physically and psychologically. (my military man is going to be impressed with my usage of the term prisoner of war in my nutrition blog). Also, lack of social interactions has been linked to depression which then effects mortality rate.

Does quality matter?

YES. Just because we are social with others, doesn’t mean those relationships are helping our health. Having a friend who listens, provides support or just cheers for the same team makes you at ease. Having a strained relationship can have the exact opposite effect, creating stress and conflict in your life. I’m not a psychiatrist, but maybe fixing a relationship that is worth fixing, or letting bygones be bygones will help to better your health 🙂

Social media plays a huge role in our social connectivity. Its a great way to connect with others, keep up with long distance friends and help wish everyone a happy birthday. Social media however can get in the way of being physically social when you are sitting on the couch, scrolling, while your family or friends are sitting right next to you. Remember, your health benefits from physical social interactions with people you love and care for!

Benefits of being a social butterfly

  • decreases mortality!!!
  • Evidence found in studies recently has shown a negative correlation between social connectivity and health. Things like cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, cancer and even delayed wound healing are all associated with poor social interactions. (journal review)
  • stress reliever – who doesn’t want that? Research has shown that caring for someone else can actually release stress-reducing hormones (Harvard Women’s Health).
  • Health benefits are given to both sides of social interactions. That means being a good listener is just as great as talking. So there is hope for my 9-month-old, listening to my 4-year-old all day!
  • One of the best benefits? It can be COST FREE! Social interactions can happen anywhere. Getting some one on one time with your spouse after the kids go to bed, talking about your day is huge. Meeting your friend at the local metro park to walk and talk, volunteering your time, heading to a friends house for a play date or lunch – these are all great examples of FREE social interactions 🙂

Are you ready to get social?

Picking up what I’m putting down? Here are some ways to get social and improve your health and wellness TODAY:

  • Exercise: walking with a friend, stroller strides, joining a running/cycling group, water aerobics, group fitness classes. Another added benefit – talking while exercising can increase your aerobic ability and lung strength
  • Coffee date. Meet an old coworker, catch up with an old friend
  • Eat meals together. I cannot stress this one enough. This is something I take very seriously. In our house, dinner is at 6. We all eat together and we do not allow phones. We sit and connect. Our 4-year-old talks about whatever he did at preschool that day. The 9-month-old try new foods and makes funny sounds. I bounce off ideas about this very blog and where it should go next. We pretend to talk about our military man’s job, even though its too top secret for us even to know what the heck he does all day.
  • Find your people. My parents are a good example of this. They are huge University of Michigan fans and they have season tickets for football and basketball and they travel 3 hours to get there. Even though my mom may complain about the drive, those complaints diminish when they get there and are with “their people”. Win or lose, they cheer on their team with thousands of others and have made great relationships with other fans.
  • Volunteer! Giving back to the community is a great way to decrease your stress level and increase your health all while helping others.
  • Join a group. Finding common ground with people is a great way to get social. Church groups and social clubs are a great way to get away from your normal day to day grind and connect with others. I am in a Moms group where I can connect with other moms with and without my kids. My mother in law is in the Blue Star Moms group where they support each other.

Take away

Remember: we are all busy. We can all find excuses not to do something. But a health is much more than just nutrition and exercise, and there is science behind that. So I challenge you to find a new social connection and increase your life longevity today.

social health

One thought on “Social Connectivity and Your Health

  1. Loving your blog, Linds!! Awesome job! Possible future post idea – I’d love to hear more about mealtimes (especially dinner!) with your kiddos – how do you encourage healthy eating with your littles, what other mealtime “rules” do you stick with, etc.

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