Dozens of studies show a clear link between strong social ties and longer life. So take the time to keep in touch.
Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, in his book, book, The Neuroscience of Human Relationships, spoke about people who have more social support tend to have better mental health, cardiovascular health, and immunological functioning, and cognitive performance.
According to Louis Cozolino’d new book, the secret to longevity isn’t just diet and exercise—being connected and kind matters, as well. Cozolino wrote in his book, “We build the brains of our children through our interaction with them, and we keep our brains growing and changing throughout life by staying connected to others.”
Cozolino’s book covered many aspects of brain development and the impact of human connection, from the prenatal stage and infancy to adolescence and adulthood to the end of life.
“Human being is a social animals full of emotions. Emotions release hormones both beneficial and harmful based on our emotions. Hormones like cortisol, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, and melatonin are released in response to our emotions which may contribute to depression or joy. Happiness comes from our social relationships when we speak to someone or convey our feelings in a positive way we release those hormones which are beneficial to our body and vice versa when we are secluded, angry and enter into conflicts,” says Dr. J Anish Anand, Consultant Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch released a study revealing that strong social connections can improve health and increase longevity. Friendships are just as important to the overall quality of life as choosing not to smoke, eating healthy foods, and getting enough sleep every night.
“Socialising helps us like being an effective antidepressant and gives us a desire to live life to the full extent. Socialization does not mean page 3 photos or partying but talking spending time with friends, parents, children and rest of our family and getting a chance to convey our true internal feelings,” says Dr. Anish.
How do you explain the connection between social ties and health?
Prof. Robin Dunbar, the noted British anthropologist, and evolutionary psychologist, in his latest book, “Friends: Understanding the Power of Our Most Important Relationships,” said, “There are two likely routes, however, both acting through the effect of friends on the endorphin system [a reference to the neurotransmitters that act to increase feelings of pleasure and well-being, and also to reduce pain and discomfort]. One is the direct effect endorphins have as opioids. They lift your mood and dull the pains that you have [by elevating pain thresholds]. That prevents you from sinking into a downward spiral of despondency, which is well known to adversely affect both psychological and physical health. In addition, it seems that endorphins activate the immune system. The endorphins seem especially to trigger the release of the immune system’s NT [so-called “natural killer”] cells, which target viruses and some cancer cells.”
The quality of our relationships matters. “Many instances of depression or suicide have happened in people who were physically fit and partying daily but not able to speak internal feelings to someone near and dear. Being able to tell our low feelings, and sadness to someone releases the pressure building in us. This is especially true of elderly people who need someone to speak to them and spend time with them otherwise they are very easily prone to unmotivated behavior to look after their health like taking medication or exercising,” says Dr. Anish.
“Children and adolescents need family members to spend time with them so that they can convey their emotions otherwise the peer pressure and the competition of the Morden world can easily affect their mental health and in turn physical health. Due to Morden’s lifestyle depression which we as doctors used to think a disease of the western world is very much prevalent now in Indian society in every stratum of our society,” adds Dr. Anish.
Here are some ways to start:
• Focus on meaningful relationships.
• activities done together mostly bring joy
• Delegate tasks or do them together with family or friends.
• Reconnect with old friends
• Introduce yourself to neighbors
• Make time to connect with family members
• Look for groups that gather around an interest or hobby you share.
BENEFITS OF FRIENDSHIPS
• Increase sense of belonging and purpose
• Boost happiness and reduce your stress
• Improve self-confidence
• Help cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one
• Encourage to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyles