You may eat very healthfully, exercise consistently, sleep like a baby, spend time outdoors with nature getting sunlight everyday, take some supplements and yet still be experiencing various health challenges. While all of these behaviors ARE health promoting, you may underestimate the power and importance of having social contact and community involvement.
Research in several health disciplines has demonstrated the protective effects of social support.1, 2, 3 Prospective studies have found an increased risk for death in people who have few and sometimes just low quality relationships – independent of baseline health.4 The health risks of loneliness, which often accompany isolation, are well documented and have even been shown to damage the heart muscle and lead to premature death. Your relationships also are a key player in regulating the expression of your genes.5
While many of our modern day technological advancements like smartphones, social media platforms (e.g., Face Book, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc.) and television contribute greatly to this state because they all have the effect of ensnaring you into a tangled web (think about how much time you spend using any of these technologies that you could use instead to do more of what YOU value in life; no coincidence it’s known as the world wide web).
To find your freedom, it is quite simple to find people with whom to socialize and create your own supportive community. Begin by taking a digital break once a week (i.e., one day per week do not use any technology at all.). Socialize more by volunteering your time. It is one way of feeling that you are contributing and making social contact. You can use sites like Volunteer Match to find opportunities to connect and help. Volunteering has many health promoting effects. You can also join a group that shares one of your interests and have fun while you socialize. Whether you like reading and want to become part of a book club, enjoy collecting stamps or simply want to find people who enjoy drinking good cup of coffee, Meet Up helps to connect you to hundreds of people in your local area who all share your passion.
If you feel apprehensive about meeting strangers, consider that all of your friends now at some point in time were strangers to you too. And if these ideas still scare you, you can join the one community that is always with you. Next time that you see one of your neighbors, do as Mr. Rogers did and greet them and say “It’s nice to be your neighbor.”
To your health,
To learn more about how working with a psychologist and holistic health coach can help you to enhance your health and well-being, call or email Dr. Sandoval to schedule a free consultation.
- Ozbay, F, Johnson, DC, Dimoulas, E, Morgan, CA, Charney, D, and Southwick, S. “Social Support and Resilience to Stress: From Neurobiology to Clinical Practice.” Psychiatry. (2007). 4(5): 35–40.
- House, JS, Landis, LR, Umberson, D “Social Relationships and Health.” Science. (1988). 241: 540-545.
- Seeman, TE. “Social ties and health: The benefits of social integration.” Annals of Epidemiology. (1996). 6(5): 442–451.
- Holt-Lunstad, J, Smith, TB, Layton, & B “Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-Analytic Review.” PLOS Medicine. (2010). 7(7): 1-20.
Ben Lynch ND. Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness and Optimize Your Health (2018).
The information, published and/or made available through the www.drjosesandoval.com website, is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a physician-patient relationship. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information in this post for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. You should consult a physician in all matters relating to your health, particularly in respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. Any action on the reader’s part in response to the information provided in this blog is at the reader’s discretion.