Research suggests that you live longer if you have strong social connections. The opposite is also true; isolation is linked to depression and a higher risk of early death. A variety of connections is important and linked to reduced stress, which is good for your heart. It might even improve your immune system and make you more able to fight off infections. There are also intrinsic benefits that are hard to measure, like improved mood, a positive outlook, and greater success in achieving certain goals. Physical contact, from holding hands to sex, releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. That “feel good” feeling has some biological benefits. Still a skeptic? Look at all the research that is based on married couples that finds marriage is, overall, good for your health and improves life expectancy.
So how do you improve your social connections? Look for ways to get involved with others. Whether it be with friends, family, neighbors, romantic partners, or others, social connect can influence your body and improve your overall well-being.
To find new social connections:
- Join a group focused on a favorite hobby, such as reading, hiking, painting, or wood carving.
- Learn something new. Take a cooking, writing, art, music, or computer class.
- Take a class in yoga, tai chi, or another new physical activity.
- Join a choral group, theater troupe, band, or orchestra.
- Help with gardening at a community garden or park.
- Volunteer at a school, library, hospital, or place of worship.
- Participate in neighborhood events, like a park clean-up through your local recreation center or community association.
- Get active in your community.
If you don’t interact in your community beyond taking your kids to practice and driving through McDonalds, you can start now to improve your social wellness. Become involved. It is important for your health and vital to your community.