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There are many things we should be doing if we want to live happier, healthier, fitter lives. But the one which is the greatest predictor of health and longevity is staying social. Staying social means;
*Having good relationships in your life – these are relationships with people whom you can count on when the going gets tough. People who you can trust to take you to the doctor if you are sick, or who can just sit with you if you’re in despair. It’s a biological imperative to know we belong and at least three stable relationships is what the research says you need here.
*Having daily social interaction – This means how much you interact with people as you go through your day. This includes not just the people you’re really close to, but also everyone else you talk to. Do you talk to the person who made your coffee, with the postman, with your neighbor? All of these different interactions are an important part of staying social.
Why staying social is important:
*It’s good for your Body:
Research shows that loneliness shortens your life as much as being a regular smoker or alcoholic. If you’re a women with breast cancer, then you are four times more likely to survive if you are not a loner. And did you know that the level of satisfaction you have with your relationships is a better predictor of physical health than your cholesterol level? Your also much more likely to suffer from a heart attack because loneliness weakens the left ventricle of your heart – your really can die of a broken heart. Staying social is not only restorative for your heart, but also bolsters your entire immune system and will literally help to save your life. Women are often much better at staying social than men, and this is a contributing factor to why women in the developed world live an average of six to eight years longer.
*It’s good for your Mind:
Good relationships don’t just protect our body; they protect our brain. Staying social sends feel-good hormones surging through the bloodstream and brain, eliminating much of the emotional and physical pain you would normally experience if you weren’t as social. It leads to less mental deterioration as you age, including better memory functions and less chance of developing dementia. It’s also an important part of overcoming all addictions.
One of the biggest causes of mental health issues is stress – and today more people are feeling stressed out than ever before. One of the most simple ways to reduce stress is by staying social. It doesn’t matter who it is – your friends, work colleagues, your therapist or so on. Having someone to talk to helps to lighten the load and has been shown to significantly reduce stress levels and increase your overall well-being.
*It’s good for your Spirit:
It’s often said that the quality of your life is in direct proportion to the quality of your relationships, and I couldn’t agree with this more. Everything is better in life and more fun when you have people to share it with- laughter is the pathway to the soul. We all need each other, because if we don’t then we miss out on the greatest things life has to offer – the sharing and receiving of love, encouragement and support from family and friends. Sure, things like having a nice house, car or going on nice holidays can all boost your happiness in the short term, however it’s having great relationships and regular engagement that makes you happy over the long term. At the end of the day, all you really have and all that you can leave behind in this journey we call life, is the people you have met and touched along the way. Staying social is vital to the wellbeing of your spirit – the core essence of who you are.
How social are we?
Despite the enormous benefits of staying social, almost around 50 percent of people living in westernised nations suffer from loneliness. They often feel alone and have no one to talk to, and even more feel as if no one knows them well. It’s hard to believe this is the case given that we live in a world in which we are more connected than ever before.
Barriers to staying social:
The Internet and social media – Studies show that the average person is spending up to 11 hours a day on the internet with much of it being spent on ‘social’ media. However, there is a big difference between interacting on social media as opposed to in person. It’s really important to point this out because it often passes under our conscious radar, which is why we relate online activity with the real thing. Basically, face-to-face contact which includes making eye contact with somebody, shaking hands, giving somebody a high-five is enough to release oxytocin, which increases your level of trust and lowers your cortisol levels, therefore lowering stress. And dopamine is generated, which gives us a little high and it kills pain. It’s like a naturally produced morphine. In-fact, face-to-face engagement releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters, and like a vaccine, they protect you now in the present and well into the future. Face-to-face interaction also increases your social intelligence and creates a biological force field against disease and decline.
Being too busy – We all live increasingly busy lives these days and it really can be difficult to catch-up with family/friends. Obviously different life stages also affect this, with some stages providing less time for social engagement than others.
Other – Mental health issues either diagnosed or un-diagnosed, fear of putting yourself out there, social awkwardness, poor self-esteem, grief, estrangement of family and friends due to conflict, divorce, substance abuse and so forth. All of these things can and often become barriers to staying social.
If you would like to know how to be more social – not only in the real world, but also become socially engaged with hundreds of others looking to live happier, healthier, fitter lives, then join my revolutionary online holistic health and fitness program at www.holistichealthfitness.com