Humans Need Other Humans
Recent research shows that the strength of a person’s social circle is a better predictor of stress, happiness and well-being levels than fitness tracker data on physical activity, heart rate and sleep. Having strong social health has been found to lower stress levels, improve mood, encourage positive health behaviors, promote cardiovascular health, and raise illness recovery rates. Furthermore, studies show that our brains work better when we’re socializing and experiencing togetherness. Building and maintaining healthy relationships is an important part of well-being; it encourages vital communities and helps to combat loneliness.
What is a Community?
There are many definitions of community. One definition of community is a group of people that care about each other and feel they belong together. When people care about each other it creates trust, which gives way to things like collaboration, sharing, support, and safety. Communities help to fulfill our innate need as humans to belong. Furthermore, people often identify with more than one community. These communities are often formed based on neighborhoods that people inhabit, nationality, faith, political beliefs, race or ethnicity, age, gender, hobbies, or sexual orientation. Communities play a vital role in the human experience and the quality of our lives.
Loneliness has become a public health problem. The negative impact of loneliness has been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social media channels, when used in a way that interferes with in-person interactions, has been connected to more loneliness. Studies show volunteering can help to reduce feelings of loneliness. Volunteering can be a wonderful way to meaningfully connect with others and build new friendships. Volunteering with organizations or for causes we feel connected to can also encourage a deep sense of purpose. It is also said that people who often partake in mentally stimulating activities form more neural connections and are consequently more resilient to symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Volunteering can help protect us from cognitive decline and overall, is a good opportunity to stay engaged and stimulated.
To Be Continued
To continue the conversation around physical health, Engage Nova Scotia will be releasing an interview with Rodney Small, Director of O.N.E North End. The interview will touch on several pertinent questions relating to fostering social health. In the meantime, join the conversation by submitting a comment below!