The Impact of Social Connectedness on Health
How close of a connection do you feel to those around you? Social connectedness is a sense of belonging with other people. It may not seem like a big deal, but many studies show that social connectedness may be just as important to your health as exercising, eating well and managing your health. When you think about how much time many of us spend behind a computer or scrolling through a phone, it’s easy to understand the feeling of isolation created by our modern devices. While independence is good, a lack of human interaction can hurt your health and well-being.
Why social connection is important
- Feeling in tune with other people provides the following health benefits:
- Decreased stress, anxiety and depression
- Improved immunity and recovery from illness
- Higher self-esteem and empathy for others
- Better emotional regulation
- Increased longevity
Five ways to be more social
With all the reasons to make more human connections, there’s no time like now to bridge that gap and start interacting. Even if you’re shy or introverted, you can take steps to connect more with family, friends, coworkers and even people you have yet to meet! Get started today with the following options:
1. Volunteer. Joining together with others for a common purpose helps in more ways than one. First, it provides support to those in need, which makes our communities better. Second, it gives you something to talk about with other volunteers, which can be a great ice breaker. And third, it feels good to help—and that can boost your mood.
2. Join a club. Groups exist for just about any interest—from running to reading to writing and even pets. Check local organizations, fitness centers, community centers, churches, libraries or meetup.com to find a new club that suites your hobbies or interests.
3. Call an old friend or family member. Is there someone you haven’t talked to in a while? Give them a call or invite them out for coffee or lunch. It’s amazing how a conversation with someone you know can make you suddenly feel part of something outside yourself. Catching up about what’s going on in their life and yours is a great opportunity to strengthen that relationship.
4. Take a class. Learning something new can boost your confidence and self-esteem—plus it puts you in contact with others who have a common interest. Many schools and communities offer adult education programs. You might also consider taking an art class from a local art store or studio, or a cooking class offered by a local business. A simple Google search can yield possible opportunities.
5. Unplug. Sometimes simply putting down your phone or device and spending more time “in the moment” can present ways to be social. Chatting with other people at the grocery store, coffee shop or on public transportation is an easy way to connect with others.
Reach out if you’re feeling down
Sometimes a sense of isolation can be overwhelming—but there’s always help when you need it. Counselors and Employee Assistance Programs can be a source of support to help you feel like yourself again.
Make connections and feel better
Improve your social connectedness and reap the health benefits. Choose one of these options and take steps to feel happier, healthier and more connected.
*This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.