If this last year has taught us anything, it is that
we need other people. So many people found quarantining to be difficult, and
for some, it became defeating. Having a social network and engaging in social
activities isn’t just important for extroverts. Even introverts need to
engage in some level of social activity consistently. Here are 7 ways our
bodies and minds thrive on togetherness.
1. Social activity can decrease anxiety and depression.
Spending time with people we love and find interesting improves our moods. It
can also inspire us to be more interested in activities and learning. Our
brains love to be active and engaging with others and learning new things
improves their cognitive function and memory.
2. Togetherness can help regulate emotions.
When we spend a lot
of time alone, it is easy to dwell in negative thoughts or to develop a skewed
perspective of a situation. When we interact with others, we can relieve that
stress by discussing our thoughts, receiving feedback, and focusing on other
activities and ideas. Spending time with others generally improves our health,
which can also increase happier feelings.
3. Participating in social activities leads to higher self-esteem.
When we spend time around people who love us and find us
interesting, we naturally feel more valued, valuable, and interesting.
Receiving other people’s positive attention proves to us, subconsciously, that
we are worthy of attention and can help us think more positively about
4. Having a strong social network improves our immune systems and heart health.
Studies show that people who feel lonely have a
higher level of the stress hormone cortisol which is associated with chronic
stress. This can lead to cardiovascular disease. Having a limited social
support system has been associated with a greater risk of cancer, heart
disease, impaired immune function, and limited recovery from those health
problems. Socializing and knowing that we have others to support us can
decrease our chronic stress and encourage us to take better care of our health
problems when they do arise.
5. Our brains work better when we work together.
though social interaction involves complex functions in the brain, it appears
to make tasks easier. That doesn’t mean that we have to make everything a group
project, but it can mean that if we have company completing tasks that stress
us, we can make them less stressful. If you have errands to do, invite a friend
along to do their errands at the same time. If you have some yard work to
complete, do a yard work swap in which a friend helps you with yours and you
help them with theirs. The tasks will feel like they take half the time, and
you will improve your mood by doing them with someone who makes you happy.
6. Socialization increases our empathy.
When we spend
time with other people, we relate better to other people, which seems obvious.
It also means that we gain a greater understanding for the experiences of
others and gain empathy for others. This can improve our outlook on the
world and help us feel compassion for the difficulties of other people. When we
have greater compassion for others, not only do people enjoy our company more
but we also can feel less stress about the events of the world, which improves
our overall health.
7. Togetherness helps us live longer.
Harvard researchers have
found that people who are isolated have a 50% greater chance of premature death
than those who have strong social ties. They speculate that there are a variety
of factors involved in that, including all the positive outcomes of having a
strong support network. Having other people around us whom we care about
inspires us and helps us enjoy life.
With all of the evidence that having a strong social
network improves our lives and our health, now is the time to reach out to friends
and family, even those you haven’t talked to in a long time. Though in-person
socialization seems to lead to better outcomes, even on-line meetings and
emails have positive effects. If you’re looking for even more ways to improve
your mood and sense of well-being, make sure you eat a diet rich in
antioxidants. A variety of studies have linked them to decreased anxiety and
depression and overall improved body health. Superberries Aronia berries are an
excellent source of antioxidants, and you can easily incorporate them into your
daily diet. Now is the time to make a few simple adjustments that can reap