People Need People!
A lack of social connection can be more dangerous for your physical health than obesity, smoking or high blood pressure.
People who have close friends and a supportive social community enjoy stronger immune systems, a 50% chance of living a longer life and a generally happier, more optimistic disposition. They tend to experience less anxiety and depression, and are more empathetic and cooperative.
Psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman, a key force in creating the relatively new science of Positive Psychology, even cites having good social connections as one of the three essential elements of happiness.
Brain scans from a University of Michigan study show that feelings of social rejection activate the same areas of the brain as physical pain. Humans seem to be hardwired for social interaction — we place a high value on being loved, appreciated, and part of a community.
People who feel isolated are more likely to feel threatened. Constantly feeling worried or uneasy taxes the immune system, setting the body up for a lowered ability to fight off illness. This negative impact of loneliness on health has no restrictions as far as age, gender, socioeconomic status or race, but is more frequently noted in marginalized demographics, such as the poor and the elderly.
Even though the importance of friendships for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health has been proven, sociological research suggests the number of people who have one or several close connections is actually dropping. A divorce, move, job change or time demands can cause us to lose friends, or hinder making new ones.
So how does an adult make new friends and create those essential social connections? Here are some tips:
- Volunteer – Whether it’s walking dogs at the local animal shelter, helping Habitat for Humanity or collecting canned goods, volunteering has the dual benefit of making you feel like a million bucks, and connecting you with like-minded potential friends.
- Take a class – So you think you can paint, or you want to try square dancing or organic gardening? Find an age-appropriate class in your community and go for it! You’ll not only improve your skill set and self-esteem – you’ll be meeting others with similar interests.
- Do things you love – Visit an arboretum, attend a gallery opening, dust off that old djembe and go to a drum circle. Even if you arrive solo, you can grab a cup of coffee with people afterwards.
- Express yourself! – Join a church choir or a community theater group – either one will let you exercise your artistic muscles and meet some interesting people.
- Work out – Nurture your body with yoga, zumba, spinning or weights. Fitness centers are a great place to find potential friends.
- Feed your spirit — Sample area churches, meditation groups or non-denominational centers with a lively roster of presenters. As you discover more ways to rejuvenate your spirit, you’ll automatically widen your circle of acquaintances and create a fertile environment for growing strong social connections.
You’ll find an enthusiastic, supportive community at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego and Austin, Texas. We can help you cleanse your body, quiet your mind and rejuvenate your spirit to achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-432 5 to make your reservation.