If one of your New Year's resolutions is to take better care of yourself in 2011, you may want to peruse this recent Huffington Post piece on 12 "key ingredients" for a healthier future. Some of the tips from former U.S. assistant surgeon general Susan Blumenthal, MD, are ones we've heard before (e.g. stop smoking, get enough sleep, exercise), but I was particularly interested in what she had to say about the importance of strong social connections:
Many studies have shown that relationships influence our long term health in ways that are as powerful as a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. These benefits extend to givers and receivers of support. A lack of connections, on the other hand, is associated with increased mortality by as much as 50 percent, depression, and a decline in cognitive function later in life. It's the quality of relationships that makes the difference, so visit with your friends and family regularly, reach out to new contacts, and enjoy developing meaningful connections.
Strengthening social ties doesn't seem like too intimidating of a task for the new year. But for those of you who are already concerned about slipping up - with this or other goals - check out an Inside Stanford Medicine article I co-wrote last year on ways to live up to your resolutions.