June 10, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
With all of the check-ups, pills, exercise and dieting that we do in the name of protecting our health, it might seem confusing that something as easy and enjoyable as hanging out with friends and family is also good for us. But researchers believe that for teens, adults and senior citizens, regular social interaction is crucial for preserving mental health. Here's why:

1. Reduces stress: It sounds simple, but getting face time with friends and family reduces stress, which is good for your mental and emotional well-being. Whether you're ranting about work, getting perspective on a personal problem you have, or just tuning out all of the things that make you stressed or worried on a regular basis, time spent with friends and peers helps relieve tension and boosts your mood.

2. It helps you feel connected: If you're out at parties, restaurants, clubs and other social events, you're more likely to feel connected and like you're contributing to the greater community. This sense of self is important when evaluating risk factors for depression and even adopting a healthier lifestyle overall.

3. It strengthens your immune system: People who have a strong base of meaningful relationships are generally more happy, and that means a more sufficient immune system. Sad and lonely people, conversely, generally show signs of a weaker immune system.

4. Longer life: Those who have both a broad social circle and frequently spend time with lots of different kinds of people as well as a close confidant or spouse are likely to live longer than those who have no one to care for them or even interest them.

5. Socializing regulates your vitals: Studies have shown that seniors who socialize regularly have lower cholesterol and more stable blood pressure.

This evidence should help you feel better about managing stress and taking time to enjoy life, especially as you age. Isolation doesn't just equal boredom: it can also mean lower self esteem, which translates into higher stress, loneliness, depression, poor physical health and cognitive decline. Make a point to join clubs, attend church or spiritual events, exercise with a group, or just meet a friend for coffee a couple of times a week. You'll thank yourself for it.

This post was contributed by Meredith Walker, who writes about the masters of healthcare degrees. She welcomes your feedback at MeredithWalker1983 at gmail.com

© www.mentalhealthblog.com

4 comments

4 comments:

Kuna Austerlitz said...

It's good to have friends of course, but when you are depressed and they ask you "What have you been up to" and all you do is sitting at home and trying to get out of this depression- that's this kind of situation i don't like..You can either lie or avoid them..why you cant just say that you were sick lately? Eh, I am sick of it.. going back to writing my gloomy and crazy blog about mental hospital.You can join me there!
my best,
http://mentalhospitalinpoland.blogspot.com/

BIO said...

Connection is really necessary for one to have a healthy well-being. No man is an island, so our elders say...

darlene said...

Not if their overweight. I have read on Project Weight Loss it`s more likely to become overweight if you have overweight friends. Obesity is epidemic and it’s still spreading, according to recent American studies.

Melissa said...

I agree with Meg's post. I have been under an enormous amount of stress over the last year. I agree that social networking is good for the physical, as well as the mental wellbeing. Friends are the glue that holds us together. If it were not for my family and friends to guide me through the challenge I have been through over the last year. It would have made my challenge that much harder. All of the points are very valid and true points. However, #1 is especially meaningful for me. Thank you for reinforcing good advice and making me adhere to what I already knew. Visit my blog to learn more about our families challenge with mental illness. http://underthehopetree.blogspot.com

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I have an educational background is in Psychology and Sociology. In addition, I have worked with many diverse individuals of all ages, with varying degrees of mental and/or physical illness. I enjoy following current news and research that impacts my area of expertise.

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