by Jody Pierce, LCSW, ED
As humans, we are born with the innate need to connect and form relationships. Having social connections and healthy relationships help us in every way; emotionally, physically, and cognitively. While eating our vegetables and getting exercise improves our health, building supportive relationships also makes a big difference in our mental and physical health.
Research suggests that people with strong, healthy relationships live healthier and happier lives. Social connections decrease anxiety and depression, increase self-esteem and help us have more empathy for others. Healthy relationships are known to strengthen our immune system, help us recover from disease, improve memory and cognitive skills, and may even lengthen our lives.
Some think we’ve had a loneliness epidemic in our country which only worsened during the Pandemic. There are many challenges to staying connected. And loneliness can immobilize us, making it hard to reach out for connection. We know however that reaching out for connection is the answer to loneliness and is worth the effort.
Finding connections might take some commitment to trying new things. Getting out of the house to be around others is a start. Starting a conversation with the people we encounter day to day can stave off loneliness and give us energy. Going to a recreation center, a senior center, taking a class, going to a place of worship, volunteering, and participating in community events all are helpful.
We need to remember and appreciate the value of social connections and the many ways they help us live healthier and happier lives.