Benefits of an extending network

An ever-extending network of relationships called the family, the community, the nation, the globe can bring extraordinary benefits if we let it.

Research shows that the best single predictor for your psychological and physical wellbeing and health is the number and quality of friendships you have.

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The social biome: how to build nourishing friendships – and banish loneliness

theguardian.com

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Research found that people with a higher sense of well-being had more frequent and longer interactions.

  • They had meaningful conversations two-and-a-half times more often than those with the least healthy social biomes.
  • They had two-thirds of interactions with close friends and family, where those with the least healthy social biomes less than half.
  • Most surprising, they felt good, connected, and happy to be alone.

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The social biome

Much like our gut microbiome - the diverse ecosystem of bacteria and other microbes in our gastrointestinal system that keeps us healthy when balance - so our social biome is the unique ecosystem of relationships and interactions that keep us emotionally, psychologically and physically healthy.

The term contains the pattern of social interactions throughout your life, the who, what you talk about, and how you communicate.

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  • Small talk: Easy, quick and friendly small talk is good for mood regulation, such as asking a colleague about their weekend or chatting about the traffic with a waiter.
  • Time alone: Healthy people don't function by having more frequent and longer conversations with their friends and family. Alone time is part of a healthy biome.

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From the moment you don't see a friend with the frequency you used to, the friendship's quality starts to decline.

  • Don't forget about Zoom. Continue to wave awkwardly on video calls when you can only communicate online.
  • Invite people to things. Invite people you don't know well but would like to know better to coffee, a party, or a gallery.
  • Climb the ladder of communication. The lowest rung is browsing social media, then direct messaging a group, then a direct message to people you want to keep in touch with, then phone calls and video chat, and the top rung is face-to-face conversation.

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We need a variety of social biome, for example, deep and meaningful conversations with a good friend, small talk with a colleague, and swapping memes with a group of old school friends.

The variety can lead to thriving, where you have all your social needs taken care of, but if the balance is off, you may feel lonely and socially malnourished.

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The negative aspects of social media

Since it’s a relatively new technology, there’s little research to establish the long-term consequences, good or bad, of social media use. However, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm , and even suicidal thoughts .

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Social Media and Mental Health - HelpGuide.org

helpguide.org

The pleasure of walking

It was easy to dismiss walking as a form of physical activity until recently. But lockdown has reminded us of the pleasures of walking. Both its physical and mental benefits are being appreciated once again.

To walk to the best of our abilities, we need to walk the way our bodies were designed to - which no longer comes naturally in this sedentary, screen-based era.

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Walk this way! How to optimise your stride to get the most from your daily stroll

theguardian.com

Working from bed

We know that we're not supposed to have devices in the bedroom and that a good posture is easier at a desk. Yet, up to 40% of people who work from home during lockdown have worked from their bed at some point.

The practice may spark creativity and productivity. Samual Johnson, Florence Nightingale and William Wordsworth all worked from bed. Contemporary writers do too. And if you want to work from bed, there are some things to note.

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Why you shouldn’t work from bed (and a guide to doing it anyway)

theguardian.com