How many times have you convinced yourself to hang out with friends or family, even when you really did not want to, but found yourself feeling so happy and refreshed afterwards? It’s so easy after a long day of work to convince ourselves to stay in and lay around the house alone, but we often feel much better when we surround ourselves with a supportive, motivating social network.
Don’t get me wrong, alone time is incredibly valuable too, which is why I set aside time each morning for myself to be alone, read, and drink my coffee before my day gets rolling. But like anything else in life, and another mantra Made 2 Move tells patients often: balance is key. Balancing social time with alone time is going to vary from person to person, and may take some experimentation to find the proper doses for your individual self.
Try to be very reflective after periods of socialization and alone time, asking yourself: do you feel filled? Or do you feel drained? This can also circle back to who you are surrounding yourself with. More on the importance of wisely choosing your social circle later. What does the research say on the importance of socializing?
Last week’s Made 2 Move blog delved into the research on grip strength and it’s correlation with health related quality of life. Interestingly, this same study also examined socialization and its effect on a person’s reported quality of life and health-related quality of life.
The study found that those with the highest amount of social interactions with non-relatives were in the highest health related qualtiy of life category as well (and their grip strength was higher than their counterparts). Strong and social! While health related quality of life is determined by many factors outside of the ones studied in this research, the importance of socialization is backed by science. Not to mention, socializing just feels good.
In examining the opposite side of socialization, isolation has been found to be negatively correlated with health outcomes. Social isolation was widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic and contributed to rising levels of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and other health related issues. We are social creatures by nature! So what are some of the benefits we see when we lean into this natural tendency towards socialization, connection, and community?
The Benefits of Socializing:
Having a healthy social circle with meaningful, genuine relationships contributes very positively to all the pillars of health. We have a little bias towards the physical activity and movement pillar here at Made 2 Move, and being social often=being active. Which can kill two birds with one stone! How so? Think: run clubs (like the one at Ethos athletic club), group fitness classes, and adult sports leagues.You get your exercise and social fix at the same time! Boom! Additionally, being social oftentimes positively influences other pillars of our overall health, these pillars being emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual.
So we know joining a gym, run club, or sports team can boost your physical health. Becoming part of a church group can contribute your spiritual health. Cultivating genuine friendships can feed fill your emotional and mental bucket. And laughing over dinner or drinks with friends is just fun!
Dr. Sawchuk of the Mayo Clinic speaks on the benefits of being social, “"We are social animals by nature, so we tend to function better when we're in a community and being around others," Dr. Sawchuk says.
“Socializing not only staves off feelings of loneliness, but also it helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer. In-person is best, but connecting via technology also works” notes Dr. Sawchuk. (Mayo Clinic 2019).
Picking Your Social Circle
I recently read a blog that talked about the importance of who you surround yourself with. The blog talked about the contagiousness of attitudes and habits, but also compared social circles to libraries. It reads, “the people around you are like a library of wisdom and resources. But not all books are good and not all people are wise” (Murray 2016).
So choose your tribe wisely. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and motivate you rather than tip you towards stagnacy or mediocrity.
Socialization is so important for overall health, especially as we age, so make the effort to get out there and interact with your people and maintain a genuine, uplifting, and motivating social network.
Our Made 2 Move team has said it before and we’ll say it again: health is more than just the hour or two you spend in the gym. Analyze your social life. Who are you surrounding yourself with? Are you skipping out on social events to workout? (This might be an imbalance of favoring your physical health while neglecting your social health.) We are a communal species. Who is your tribe?
At Made 2 Move, we place a high value on forming genuine connections with our patients. We’ve seen the difference this patient centered approach has on treatment outcomes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Interested in connecting with one of our physical therapists? Reach out to email@example.com today to set up an initial consultation!