Posted on May 07 2019
“It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place”. It’s this quote from author David Hume that has inspired this week’s blog.
At first glance, this appears to be a quote about teamwork, a testament to what can be achieved when we all work towards a common good. Although when I read this quote, it immediately resonated with me as a powerful statement about human connection.
When we work together, interact, and collaborate, we can not only achieve great things, but we experience personal healing. We feel better when we experience social connection.
So that’s what we wanted to focus on with this week’s blog. The importance of social connection and it’s benefits to our health!
What the research says
Research in the field of social psychology points to the vast importance of social connection to our mental health.
Having a strong social group, mainly friends and family, can provide you with a variety of important support channels. These include:
- Concrete help: such as picking you up from work.
- Emotional support during tough times.
- Advice, such as a suggestion how to solve a problem with your partner.
- Validation, through recognizing and accepting your feelings.
These facets of support that friendships offer can lead to a number of mental health benefits. These include:
- Increased feelings of belonging.
- Increased levels of happiness.
- Reduced levels of stress.
- Improved self-worth and confidence.
In a recent study conducted at a clinic in Buffalo, New York researchers found that respondents with low levels of perceived social support were more likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression than their high perceived social support counterparts. Put simply, those who believed that they had lots of social support suffered less from stress and depression.
But the benefits of social connection and support are not only mental, they can be physical too! In fact, some studies have shown that high social connection and strong social relationships can help you live longer.
In a review of 148 studies on social connection, across 308,849 participants, data indicated that those with stronger social relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival. This remained true across a number of factors including age, sex, initial health status, and cause of death. (Read more here)
Keep your friends closer
We hope these findings on social connection and mental and physical health can help you to feel more grateful about those meaningful people in your life. (If one of them is your mom, read this.)
Our social groups can be an amazing tool to help us not only achieve our goals, but to find personal happiness.
If you are looking to get the most out of the relationships you currently have, here are some suggestions:
- Remove yourself from toxic relationships. No person who makes you feel unsafe, inadequate, or sad is worth your time!
- Make time for those you love. Set reminders on your calendar or phone to call your close family and friends. It might be an opportunity to make their day and yours!
- Share your conversations. Make sure that you are both a good speaker and a good listener. People feel more inclined to talk and share with someone they see as a good listener.
- Share your feelings. Let people know how you respect, love, and/or appreciate them.
We hope this blog has been a good one for you. (Now call your best friend already!)