12 Ways Your Social Life Can Make You Healthier
Making relationships a priority and being a good friend is essential to living a healthy life
Our social lives are as important to our health as the food we eat and how much we exercise. In fact, studies have shown that mortality rates are reduced by nearly 50 percent among those with strong social relationships. From an evolutionary standpoint, social bonding is essential for survival: from reproduction, protection against predators, environmental factors, to cognitive development. Conversely, social isolation has been linked to physical and mental disorders and increased mortality, in both animal models and human studies. At Sun Basket, we recognize the health-promoting power of relationships and strong social connections, and so does our Chief Science Officer, Dr. David Katz; which is why Love is one of his six tenets of “True Health”.
Here, Sun Basket’s Director of Nutrition, Lindsey Kane, chimes in on why we should all strive to make the people in our life a top priority.
- Loneliness can break your heart, really. Social isolation and low-quality relationships have been linked to the development and progression of heart disease, the leading cause of death around the world.
- Relationships can add years to your life. We all can agree that relationships add richness to your life, and now we have studies that also link social connections to longevity.
- Technology isn’t cutting it. We live in a global world, and they say we’re more “connected” now than ever before. Yet, it’s becoming abundantly clear that technology is actually creating social divides, rather than authentic unions.
- We aren’t doing so hot in the love department right now. Current research suggests the quantity and quality of social relationships are on the decline, as evidenced by reduced intergenerational living, social mobility, delayed marriage, dual-career families, increased single-residence households, and increased-age related disabilities.
- We’re lonely and we know it. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans who report feeling as though they have no confidant has tripled.
- Be your own best friend. Your relationship with yourself is the most important one of all. Practice body kindness. Don’t ignore self-care. Monitor your inner monologues. Replace negative chatter with words of affirmation. Talk to yourself as you would talk to a friend. Journaling can also be a great tool to get to know yourself better.
- Do it for the ones you love. Investing in relationships doesn't just improve your health, it also improves the health of your friends and family, since they too, rely on, and benefit from social bonds in the same way.
- Drop the people who drag you down. It’s the quality of relationships that matter most. While we all Marie-Kondo our closets, it’s also worth auditing your social circle, too. Purge any consistently toxic negative energy lurking in your network. We are the sum of the five people we surround ourselves with the most. With that in mind, keep only the humans that light you up and make you shine.
- Find your tribe. Join a book club, a recreational league, a meet-up group, or any activity that brings you together with people with similar hobbies, and personal interests. Pursuing a passion is a great way to share experiences among like-minded souls, with the potential to transform a random “meet-cute” into a life-long relationship.
- Go analog. You don’t have to ditch digital all together, but be aware of its shortcomings. In-person interactions will always form the strongest bond.
- Prioritize people. Just like drinking plenty of water each day, going to bed at a consistent hour, and regularly filling half your plate with vegetables, spending time with friends and family should be built into your daily routine along with these other health-promoting habits. Better yet, score the benefits of two health-promoting habits at the same time by scheduling runs, yoga meetups, lunch breaks, and dinner dates with people you love.
- Vow to be vulnerable. Strong, meaningful bonds require vulnerability. Ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of being human. Lend a hand whenever you can, altruistic behavior causes a release of feel-good hormones for a reason.