Importance of social connection
Feeling socially connected and unconditionally loved has never been more important in an increasingly isolated world, where technology trumps human touch. Humans are intrinsically social creatures; as far back as time can trace, we’ve hunted, travelled, and lived in social groups. There’s something intangibly authentic about talking to someone face to face; they become a relatable being, rather than a disembodied text message that pops up on your smart phone.
The benefits of human social interaction should not be overlooked, and here are a few simple reasons social connections improve our quality of life:
Boost mental health: Friendships manifest inner feelings of purpose, belonging, acceptance, and increased levels of happiness. When you feel happy, your stress levels are reduced; everyone could do with a little less stress in their lives!
Increase your life expectancy: A review of over 140 studies showed that individuals with strong social relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival (SMH, 2017). All the more reason to maintain close social ties and foster healthy friendships!
Mental health improves physical health: Social connection is so strong, that when we feel rejected or experience ‘social pain’, our brains literally hurt in the same way we feel physical pain. This explains why losing a friend, going through a break-up, or feeling ignored in your friendship circle is a source of great distress (Wolpert, 2013).
The bottom line: In a world full of people, what can be more alluring than knowing how to create meaningful relationships and establishing deeper connections with those around us? Being kind and helpful towards others equates to being kind and loving towards oneself; positivity is an attractive quality.
Maintaining social relationships has both mental and physical health benefits. Most importantly, it can be fun! Go on, organise a catch up dinner with friends next weekend; give an old pal a phone call; enjoy lunch out with your co-workers; and spend time with loved ones. The need to socially connect with others seems to be as basic as our need for food, shelter, and water.