There’s one thing you can do to live a longer, healthier life.
Heads up — It has nothing to do with diet or exercise or taking vitamins or drinking tonics or meditating.
There it is. Spend time with people.
How many times have you said, “We should get together more often!” after spending time with friends. Why Not? You feel recharged….restored….uplifted…fulfilled.
They help us solve problems big and small, provide a sounding board, advice and counsel. Often the time spent together is punctuated by laughter that always brightens the day not to mention giving the immune system a big boost.
Did you ever think in terms of friends saving your life?
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch reports, “dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer healthy problems and live longer.
In a study of 7,000 men and women in Alameda County California begun in 1965, Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme found that “people who were disconnected from others were roughly 3 times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with solid social ties.”
John Robbins recounted in his book on health and longevity, Healthy at 100, “in a column, I wrote in 2013 called Shaking Off Loneliness I cited a review of research published in 1988 indicating that social isolation is on par with high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise or smoking as risk factors for illness and early death.”
People who are chronically lacking in social contacts are more likely to experience elevated levels of stress and inflammation. These in turn can undermine the well being of nearly every bodily system, including the brain. Without social interaction blood flow to vital organs is likely to be reduced and immune function compromised. Even how genes are expressed can be adversely affected, impairing the body’s ability to turn off inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and increased anxiety and depression.
In a 2010 report in The Journal of health and Social behavior, Debra Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez, sociology researchers at the University of Texas, cited “consistent and compelling evidence linking a low quality of social ties with a host of conditions,” including the development and worsening of cardiovascular disease, repeat heart attacks, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, cancer and slowed wound healing.
Lack of social interactions also damages mental health. The emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce the damaging effects of stress and can foster “a sense of meaning and purpose in life” the Texas researchers found.
Dr. Emma Seppala of the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, and author of the 2016 book “The Happiness Track,” wrote, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, therefore others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. “In other words, Dr Seppala explained, “social connected-ness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.”
So……for those seeking a health promoting lifestyle ACTIVATE your contact file…dust off the address book.
It’s not enough to exercise eat your vegetables, lose weight, reduce alcohol intake…you must prioritize connecting with friends. That also means turning off electronic devices and being 100% present with each other.
It’s also an opportunity to extend human kindness and reach out to those who have become isolated through a life event… death of a loved one, divorce, health crisis, empty nest….and say,”Hey I’ve been thinking about You….how about we get together?”
Or as a friend of mine says, “How about a cwoffe twalk?”
Who you gonna call?
Please pass this along to friends and then make date to get together.