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How Your Social Life Might Help You Live Longer

Physical health is more than exercise

Physical health is more than exercise

When we want to maximize our physical health, we should not only focus on a balanced diet and exercise but also on our social relationships.

Studies, again and again, point to our relationships as a major factor in health. One meta-study found that people with healthy and supportive relationships live longer.

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How Your Social Life Might Help You Live Longer

How Your Social Life Might Help You Live Longer

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_your_social_life_might_help_you_life_longer

greatergood.berkeley.edu

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Key Ideas

Physical health is more than exercise

When we want to maximize our physical health, we should not only focus on a balanced diet and exercise but also on our social relationships.

Studies, again and again, point to our relationships as a major factor in health. One meta-study found that people with healthy and supportive relationships live longer.

Our mental state impacts biological processes

When we experience stress, our bodies change:

  • The stress hormone increases.
  • Our cardiovascular system activates its fight or flight response.
  • Inflammation increases. Inflammation helps us fight off bacteria.
  • Our ability to fight off viruses decreases.

The main stressor that humans deal with

Loneliness is a major stressor. Loneliness increases cortisol and inflammation - which hurt our health in the long run.

Taking time to connect with others help activate beneficial processes, such as the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin lower cortisol, reduce pain, change the way our brain responds to potential stressors, and promote the growth of new brain cells.

Building new social habits

Because our social relationships are vital for our health, it's important to consider how to improve them. Just as we might plan healthy meals or exercise, we should plan to spend quality time with friends and family.

We can catch up with friends remotely, a phone call being better than texting. We should also consider how to incorporate kindness into our routine. An act of kindness could be bringing someone chocolates, opening doors for others, or picking up trash.

Looking beyond the individual

Many of the factors that impact our health are best understood at the level of community, rather than the individual.

People that live in a friendly neighborhood have a lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Try to invest more time into your family life. Stop to chat with neighbors. Try to be kinder.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Loneliness Is A Kind Of Pain
  • Loneliness affects 19 to 43 per cent of adults who are now past 60 years of age.
  • Just as physical pain is a warning from the body telling us to take appropriate ac...
Loneliness And Mental Health

Studies show that older adults who are lonely see a decline in their thinking abilities, which is rapid if paired with other factors like physical inactivity, anxiety, poor sleep and high blood pressure.

Prolonged social isolation is a kind of mental stress leading to various mental and physical health issues like faster ageing, dementia and cognitive decline. It has also been linked to the factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease, like a build-up of certain toxic proteins in the brain.

Social Activities As A Form Of Self-Care
  • The negative impact of prolonged loneliness can be curbed with maintaining high-quality relationships and social activity.
  • How we manage our feelings and relationships is important for our brain’s health.
  • Self-care is an essential component of our mental and physical health, and we have to focus our attention towards better sleep and exercise routines, healthy eating and engaging in enjoyable activities.
Positive Thinking
  • Recall positive life events.
  • Help others and remind yourself that you can impact the world and feel happier.
  • Practice mindfulness that makes you more pres...
Creating Purpose

Living a life with meaning and purpose is key to improving your psychological well-being. Your purpose doesn’t necessarily have to involve changing the world or devoting yourself to helping others.

If you lack a purpose, think about the legacy you’d like to leave behind and establish some objectives that can help you reach those goals. 

Psychological Well-Being

it is the combination of feeling good and functioning effectively. People with high psychological well-being report feeling capable, well-supported, and satisfied with life, besides living longer and healthier lives.

Researchers found that the absence of distress doesn’t necessarily correlate with high psychological well-being, but it does with having one’s basic needs met. 

Happy people are well rounded people
Happy people are well rounded people
  • They savor the moment. They "stop to smell the roses".
  • They're busy, but not rushed. A healthy work-life balance is key.
  •  They don't sweat the small stuff...
Happy people invest in their relationships
  • They spend money on others. One reason is that it creates social connections.
  • They celebrate other people's success through "active and constructive" responding.
  • They treat everyone with respect and kindness. Kindness, like happiness, is contagious.
  • They're proactive about relationships. They work on maintaining their relationships.
  • They express gratitude. It improves mood and energy and decreases anxiety.
  • They engage in deep, meaningful conversations.
The attitude of happy people
  • They're optimistic. Bad things happen to all of us. Happy people don't complain, whine or let pessimism become a self-fulling prophecy.
  • They view problems as challenges. They focus on solutions to the problem and reflect on what they're grateful for.

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Vulnerable Time for Kids

A child's pre-teen and teen years are a high-emotion transitory period. This is due to shifting classmates, social pressure, multiple classrooms and a period of many 'firsts'.

Deep Friendships

A study on sixth-graders revealed that friendship is crucial and real for kids, and can be as deep as a parental relationship.

Most parents and teachers do not understand the importance of deep bonding among friends at school and tend to regard friendships as a distraction or a nuisance.

Social Isolation and Bullying

Social isolation is the dark side of the school, in which many kids with no friends are at risk of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. There is a perceived sense of threat with being friendless, and the young, immature mind can deeply internalize the resulting difficulties, leading to depression.

Bullying at this age is also a major problem, with those who are socially isolated becoming the most vulnerable to being bullied.

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Reducing Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stres...
Controlling Anxiety

Less stress leads to less anxiety.

Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Promoting Emotional Health

Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

  • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
  • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.

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Have ‘detox’ periods

Schedule regular multi-day breaks from social media. 

Pay attention to how you feel

Experiment with using your favorite online platforms at different times of day and for varying lengths of time, to see how you feel during and after each session.

You may find that a few short spurts help you feel better than spending 45 minutes exhaustively scrolling through a site’s feed. 

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Limit your use of social media
Limit your use of social media

Commit to not checking social media during meals with family and friends, and when playing with children or talking with a partner. 

Make sure social media doesn’t interfere with ...

Have “detox” periods

Even a five-day or weeklong break from Facebook can lead to lower stress and higher life satisfaction

Publicly declare you are on a break. And delete the apps for your favorite social media services.

You can also cut back without going cold turkey: limit your use of social media to 10 minutes a day for three weeks and you'll see improvements in your mental health. 

Pay attention to how you use social media

Experiment with using your favorite online platforms at different times of day and for varying lengths of time, to see how you feel during and after each session. 

You may find that a few short spurts help you feel better than spending 45 minutes exhaustively scrolling through a site’s feed. 

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Remember That Good Action

Acts of kindness have been proven to make us happier, lower our blood pressure, and promote stronger social connections.
While people do feel good by doing acts of kindness, new research ...

The "kindness pandemic"

Viruses aren’t the only things that spread through networks of people. Attitudes and behaviors do too. And we should take advantage of it. 
Spreading happiness and kindness right now is ...

Spreading connection

70% of our happiness comes from your relationships with other people. And the social distancing situation has left some with zero people around them. 
So reach out. Extended time without social contact is bad: Send a text, make that phone/video call, anything you want to let people know you care and are thinking about them.

Spreading help

Ask people if they need anything.  There are people out there in need of a little more than well wishes right now. And when people see others helping, they’re more likely to help. 

Also, if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

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