Finding the perfect balance between socialising and preserving our mental and physical health can be challenging but necessary. Human beings are inherently social creatures, and our well-being often relies on the connections we form with others.
However, it is equally important to strike a balance between spending countless hours talking, laughing and sharing time with friends and family and recharging your batteries. The 21st century is all about mental well-being and making it a top priority.
In this article, we will explore the importance of socialising for both mental and physical health.
The Social Connection
Socialising serves as a lifeline for our mental well-being. From the moment we are born, our lives are intertwined with social connections that play a fundamental role in shaping our psychological health. As we grow and mature, these connections become increasingly crucial.
Socialising Impacts Your Mental Health
Social interactions can act as a buffer against stress. Engaging with friends and loved ones provides both emotional support and a sense of belonging, helping us navigate through the whirlwind that is life.
It is also a massive distraction from those negative thoughts, especially with the rise of popular social media platforms and the evolution of influencers. It can be difficult for us to avoid going through a deep rabbit hole but by surrounding ourselves with people we love, we aren’t filling the time with meaningless scrolling and removing those triggers from our lives.
Having secure relationships with friends and family can be extremely therapeutic. It allows us to express ourselves, gain insights, and find solutions to problems. This is particularly true in close-knit friendships and supportive networks.
Keeping troubles and feelings to yourself isn’t healthy and you shouldn’t keep them. No matter how trivial you might think it is, it is healthy to share those thoughts and feelings.
Positive interactions and social feedback can boost self-esteem and self-worth. Feeling valued and appreciated by others contributes to a healthier self-image.
Loneliness can lead to a range of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Regular social interactions can have a huge positive impact on your feelings, giving you a sense of purpose and routine and giving you things to look forward to.
Many studies on animals, such as chimpanzees, are the closest relative to humans because it is proven that socialising is a crucial and healthy development of one’s personality in a range of fields, including romantic relationships.
Engaging in conversations, debates, and activities with others can stimulate cognitive function. It keeps our minds active and helps delay cognitive decline in later life.
While socialising provides a multitude of mental health benefits, it’s important to recognise that not all social interactions are created equal. Some social habits can undermine your well-being. One such example is social smoking.
Socialising Impact On Your Physical Health
Studies have consistently shown that individuals with strong social ties tend to live longer. The reasons are multifaceted, including its positive impacts on your mental health, such as the reduction of stress but also its positive impact on your behaviour.
Socialising can inspire more positive behaviours. For example, your group of friends might be really into fitness and have been talking about how Pilates has changed their lives, and you need to attend a class with them.
In addition, you’re more likely to seek medical attention when there is an issue. This can be common in female-to-female or male-to-female relationships.
Immune System Boost
Socialising stimulates the immune system. Interactions with others expose us to a variety of germs and pathogens, thereby priming our immune system to respond more effectively to potential threats.
Drinking and Smoking
The only downside of socialising can be what your friends may want to do on a weekend. Some friendship groups enjoy going out drinking and social smoking tends to follow. This can harm your physical health if binge drinking is involved.
A solution for this is using nicopods and offering them as an alternative to vapes and cigarettes, or suggesting alternative plans such as a hike, painting classes, bouldering and other healthy fun activities.
The Modern Challenge
While the benefits of mental and physical health are well documented, modern life poses unique challenges to maintaining a healthy balance of social interactions.
In our tech-savvy world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of substituting in-person interactions with virtual ones.
While social media, texting, and video calls are all convenient, they lack the depth and nuance of face-to-face communication and interactions. More often, younger generations are avoiding responding to messages as it adds to their anxiety and is slowly starting to become more of a problem than an act of convenience.
You can have a thousand conversations online and still feel lonely; social media merely puts a band-aid on these issues but does not fill the void.
Busy schedules, long working hours, and familial commitments can limit the time we have available for socialising. Prioritising social interactions can be challenging in the face of these demands.
Strategies for Finding The Balance
Balancing social interactions for mental and physical health requires intention and effort. Here are some strategies to help find that equilibrium:
Quality Over Quantity
Focus on the quality of your social interactions rather than the quantity. If you know and feel like the plans offered are not what makes you happy and won’t be a comfortable experience for you, then dont feel guilty about saying no.
If these interactions don’t help you build meaningful, deep connections with your friends, find and suggest alternatives that can help your relationship flourish. This will also help eliminate those friendships that are superficial, freeing up more time and energy to invest in relationships that are healthy for you.
Set Boundaries with Technology
Limit your screen time and allocate specific periods for digital interactions. Use technology as a supplement to, not a replacement for, in-person socialising.
Prioritising Face-to-Face Time
By setting aside some time at the weekend to spend time with your friends and family, you’re able to share any thoughts, stories or fun activity ideas. Spending time with your loved ones doesn’t have to take up the whole day; it can be as simple as meeting up for a coffee. Anything is better than nothing.
Join Clubs and Groups
You shouldn’t have to quit activities because none of your friends enjoy them; there are groups and clubs for almost anything. While it is a perfect opportunity to indulge in your hobbies, it is also the perfect place to meet others who share the same passion and form new connections.