ADVENTIST LA GRANGE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: How to Boost Your Social Health
Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital issued the following announcement on April 2.
You can take care of your physical health by sticking to an exercise plan, and you can take care of your mental health with stress-reduction techniques or the help of a behavioral therapist. But what about your social health? Relationships and health are closely connected, and your quality time with friends and loved ones have an impact on both your physical and your mental wellness.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of social health, never fear. Here’s a quick primer, plus some fun, low-risk tips for how to make friends.
Two Sides to Social Health
Loneliness and social isolation aren’t quite the same thing, but they’re both an important part of your social health. Social isolation refers to how physically and/or emotionally distant a person is from others. Loneliness is the feeling of wanting more social contact than you’re getting.
It’s perfectly possible to feel lonely, even when you spend a lot of time around other people. In other words, you don’t have to be socially isolated to be lonely, but if you are socially isolated, you’re likely to be lonely as well.
The Risks of Poor Social Health
One of the most obvious dangers of social isolation is that if you experience an accident or a medical emergency, fewer and weaker interpersonal relationships mean fewer people who would likely be able to help. But the danger isn’t just a practical one. People who are frequently lonely often have elevated systolic blood pressure, and loneliness is a major risk factor for depression. It can also raise stress hormones and cause inflammation.
While younger generations report loneliness more frequently, older generations face the greatest health risks from it. According to some estimates, up to 60 percent of Americans age 50 and older are at risk of poor health from prolonged loneliness.
If there’s a gap between the socializing you do and the socializing you desire, there are ways to bridge that gap. Try these strategies with friends new and old to keep your social health at its best.
How to Make Friends (and Keep Old Ones)
Poor social health tends to lead to depression, and depression tends to make you feel like you’ve forgotten how to make friends. Even outgoing people sometimes have trouble developing interpersonal relationships as they grow older, and a person’s friend groups naturally shrink over time according to a 2012 meta-analysis. Luckily, some easy, effective tactics can help reverse this trend in big and small ways.
Start with the Basics
Try talking about your weekend plans or a favorite TV show, and remember to listen and respond to the other person. Sure, you won’t immediately bond with somebody after five minutes of small talk. But it can be good practice for socializing in general, and who knows when you might strike on a common interest with somebody?
Take the Time to Make the (Quality) Time
Even if you are feeling lonely, there are probably some relationships in your life that would benefit from your attention. Try setting a reminder to reach out to somebody in your life at least once a week. Brainstorm some in-person quality time you could schedule, like a weekly lunch date or a game night. You might be surprised to find the people in your life were missing you as much as you missed them.
Do Something Fun, Somewhere New
One great way to make an instant connection is by sharing a common interest in a public or semi-public place. Love cooking? Sign up for a class. Enjoy the outdoors? Find a hiking club on Meetup (or start one). Other people share your interests, and the public environment can assuage some of your fears.
Take Care of Yourself
How can you make friends and improve your physical health at the same time? Join a gym with a friend or take advantage of a group class. As the weather gets nicer, you could find a running club or start training for a marathon.
Find Your Community
There are communities to be found all over the place, from churches and church groups to volunteer organizations that do good in the world. You can even start participating in town hall and city council meetings and find a political cause with which to get involved.
There are lots of ways that you can feed your current friendships and discover new ones. But sometimes, the best way to improve your social health is to work on yourself with the help of a professional. If you need to talk to someone about feelings of loneliness or depression, please consider contacting your healthcare provider or making an appointment with an AMITA Health therapist.
Original source can be found here.
Source: Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital