Did you know that spending quality time with friends or loved ones isn’t just good for the soul, but also scientifically proven to be good for your overall well being? Humans are social creatures. No matter how much gaming and social media we partake in, our DNA is built to be social. Ever left a gathering with friends and felt refreshed and jovial? Ever left the gym and felt re-energized? Time spent with those that you trust and that care about you is good for everyone. Time spent around other like minded humans is also good for everyone. Too much time time on your own staring at your computer, at your phone, at a wall:) can make you feel lonely and out of touch so it is important to make an effort to spend time with others.
Per the New York Times, the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”
In a study of 7,000 men and women in Alameda County, Calif., begun in 1965, Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme found that “people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties,” John Robbins recounted in his marvelous book on health and longevity, “Healthy at 100.”
This major difference in survival occurred regardless of people’s age, gender, health practices or physical health status. In fact, the researchers found that “those with close social ties and unhealthful lifestyles (such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise) actually lived longer than those with poor social ties but more healthful living habits,” Mr. Robbins wrote. However, he quickly added, “Needless to say, people with both healthful lifestyles and close social ties lived the longest of all.”
Benefits of Socialization:
- Better mental health – it can lighten your mood and make you feel happier
- Lower your risk of dementia – social interaction is good for your brain health
- Promotes a sense of safety, belonging and security
- Allows you to confide in others and let them confide in you
Social networks and online interactions may give people a false sense of connectedness. We still need physical in-person connections for our own mental health. Schedule time with friends (in-person) on a regular basis to avoid loneliness. Go to an interactive event together. Have an office party. It doesn’t have to be a full night or day out. It could be a 15 minute walk with a neighbor or meeting up for a quick coffee.
Your default peer group is at work and relationships at work are important, but relationships outside work are important too. Relationships with neighbors, the parents of your kids’ friends, or others that share common interests with you are good for your well-being. Take a second to evaluate the people you spend time with and look for ways to branch out if that circle doesn’t go beyond colleagues.