.Being social and its health benefits
The social element of every individual is hard to do away with. Bear in mind that we are born and live in social groups throughout our lives. So how does this social element and its resultant social contact affect our health?
Our personalities are moulded by the societies we are born into, live in, work in, and grow in.
And our need for communication is so great that we’ve invented a vast number of ways to achieve that need. This goes from pen and paper to mobile phones and the internet.
A measure of some form of comfort was one of the benefits many people admitted to gaining from social interaction. Additionally, some said that the interactions motivated them to pursue a healthier lifestyle, less stress and better life perspectives.
Everyone craves social contact, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, this need to socialise pops up from time. In this piece, we aim to find out why and if there are any health benefits associated with social interaction.
Why are we referred to as social species?
It’s an obvious fact that being social has immensely contributed to our species in terms of survival, growth and development.
In 2011, a study published in the Nature journal proposed that the strength of social interaction grew, when humans changed from being nocturnal workers searching for food at night to being daylight workers thereby rendering them more susceptible to attacks from predators.
A more recent study shows that early hominids may have developed basic (language) tools for communication. Done to increase their standard of living and evolutionary status.
More research has shown that humans have innate compassion and caring qualities. And this is one of the basic qualities for finding a mate which results in procreation (which ensures survival of the human race). This also forms a bond which can stand the test of adversity.
The face to face vaccine
A cocktail of neurotransmitters are set off in our system each time we have direct person to person contact. According to Psychologist Susan Pinker, these transmitters aid in controlling our stress/ anxiety responses. Therefore, constant face to face interaction could help us develop a solid defense against stress factors.
Last year, a study showed cancer chemotherapy patients seem to do better if they are involved in social support and interaction. This suggests that being around family and friends who are experiencing similar struggles can be a serious mental and physical boost.
Social contact aids in memory improvement, as well as reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
“When you’re socially motivated to learn, the social brain can do the learning. The social brain also does it better than the analytical network that you typically activate when you try to memorize. A study published last year found that “SuperAgers,” defined as people aged 80 and above but who have the mental agility of much younger people, appear to have one thing in common: close friends.
Healthy habits through social contact
In recent studies, it has been shown that associating with people who motivate us to live healthier lifestyles could greatly help in being careful with our diet, exercise and general lifestyle.
For example, people who exercised in a group had better mental and physical well-being at the end of a 12-week fitness program. Those who took on the fitness program solo had a lesser physical and metal well-being.
HAPPINESS AND LONGEVITY SECRET
The authors of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, who interviewed the supercentenarians of the village Ogimi close to Okinawa found out that close social bonding was an essential part of these villager’s lives
“It is customary in Okinawa to form close bonds within local communities. A moai is an informal group of people with common interests who look out for one another. For many, serving the community becomes part of their ikigai [life purpose].” The members of a moai “maintain emotional and financial stability,” according to the authors. All the members of the Moai band together to help each other in times of turmoil and distraught.
To conclude, our overall life satisfaction can be improved by cultivation good healthy social ties with our friends and family.
While we know we may not have the time to socialize due to our busy/crazy schedules; we should however make out time to interact with our family and friends. Take a break from your own head space and relax in the company of people close to your heart.
Being mentally and physically vibrant should be enough motivation for even the strongest introverts to go out there and socialize.
So go out there today, call up a friend, meet up with family and rediscover the magic of social bonding.