6 Ways Your Social Wellness Can Affect Your Health
This month our blog reaches out and talks about another facet of wellness: Social. Having a good social life, be it during the holiday season or any other time, has benefits that go far beyond happiness. Humans are social animals and, as such, our wellness is deeply tied to our overall health in more ways than you would think. What is social wellness? It refers to one’s ability to interact with people around them. Also, it involves using good communications skills, having meaningful relationships, respecting yourself and others, and creating a support system that includes family members and friends. And it is the sum total of our positive social activities and relationships.
Here are 6 ways your social wellness can affect your health:
Boosts the Immune System
A number of studies have shown the immune benefits of maintaining positive relationships. One study, done at Carnegie Mellon University, showed that lonely individuals with smaller social networks have a comparatively poor antibody response when given vaccinations. Likewise, they have lower cortisol levels.
Increased Mental Stability
It should come as no surprise that your mental health and stability is largely impacted by the social network in which you navigate each day. Individuals without many relationships and a small group of friends often find themselves stuck in a pattern of lonely, negative thoughts. On the other side, individuals with large social networks have a more positive outlook. They feel as though they have more options and, thus, circumvent patterns of negativity.
Improves Heart Health
In a study published in Psychology and Aging, loneliness was found to be a significant risk factor for increased systolic blood pressure. The risk was found to be independent of other predictors such as age, gender, or race. Keeping a healthy social life will keep you in good physical condition as well (with limits, of course).
Improved social lives usually result in less stress and better sleep. Better sleep then plays numerous roles in other aspects of life. Generally, when individuals feel isolated they will also have feelings of tiredness, decreased vitality, and decreased energy.
In a meta-analysis titled Social Relationships and Mortality Risk published in PLOS ONE, the authors sought out to determine how large a role social relationships may play in the risk of mortality. What they found is surprising. Social relationships have a comparable influence on mortality as well-established risk factors.
As we age, one of the unfortunate side effects is a risk of memory loss. Fortunately, having a large social network has been shown to dramatically decrease that risk. Studies have already shown that an active social life in the elderly prevents cognitive decline and decrease the risk of dementia, but new studies are coming out showing that memory is also affected. Over a 6 year period, one study was able to show that patients with the highest amount of social interaction also had the slowest rate of memory decline.
The benefits of having high social wellness are numerous and the downsides are virtually nonexistent. Humans, at their core, are social animals. When we are social, we feel, move, and live better. Best of all, it’s fun to be social, so get out there and get talking!
Your body’s health is connected to your emotions, your mentality, and your social wellness. To be well and healthy, we need to live wholly and consciously. This is the foundation of somatics — embodied transformation through a deeper understanding of the self, internally and externally. If you want to discover how to consciously awaken your sense of self through experience, movement, and self-awareness, contact Carol Montgomery today.
Carol is a physical therapist, a co-creator of Integral Human Gait theory, a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, and a Senior Trainer in Movement Intelligence. Focus, Align, Teach and Inspire! These qualities not only describe her work, but they also describe her presence. She is passionate when it comes to reconnecting learning with human function and health. Carol is in private practice at MontgomerySomatics.com in Columbus, Indiana.