The Importance of Social Connections

food on table - CopyWe are not only human beings – we are SOCIAL BEINGS. We thrive on being connected.  Need proof? Take a look at social media! By December 2016, Facebook boasted the claim of having 1.86 billion monthly active users.  Take that number and add in Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest… and whatever else you may have and the numbers are amazing. People need connections and yes, many individuals, myself included, use social media for work, but I also use it to socialize.  I like to be connected and I love that social media allows me to keep up with friends and family that I don’t get to spend time with on a regular basis. I am always connected! Yet, there is something about face-to-face connections that unequivocally trumps the benefits of connecting with others through social media.

Connections help to develop a strong sense of belonging.  And, when a person has a sense of connection and belonging they are 2 times more likely to enjoy good health.[i] It’s true.  In fact, the lack of social relationships can be attributed to why someone catches a common cold. [ii] In 1997, another study revealed that if a person has fewer than 3 close relationships (e.g. spouse, good friend, or close colleague) they are 4 times more likely to contract a cold or the flu. Heck, we should be promoting friendships over flu shots! Just sayin’!

As important as our physical health is, our mental health is significant to our overall well-being too. Having good community connections, a strong sense of belonging and stellar friendships in life, helps us to fight off depression.  As humans, we need to feel valued and loved. This level of connection isn’t sustainable through a computer or handheld device. That’s my opinion. We need to have the face-to-face visits and spend time together in meaningful ways. Furthermore, it’s proven that individuals live longer when they spend less time in social isolation. Yes, if you want to live longer [iii] get out and be with people!

You may feel you don’t know where to go to meet people. Why not start in your own neighbourhood? Did you know there is a Neighbour Day? Well there is and you can check out a great website with resources to help you begin to make connections with the people you live closest too. The benefits to you, to them and to your neighbourhood as a whole, may surprise you. Check out: www.neighbourdayvictoria.com and start planning today!

[i] https://ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/positive-mental-health-and-well-being

[ii] http://www.psy.cmu.edu/~scohen/ryffsing01.pdf

[iii] https://news.byu.edu/news/prescription-living-longer-spend-less-time-alone

 

 

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