Just about everyone I know feels overwhelmed with an endless ‘to do’ list of work assignments, chores, errands and appointments. By the end of the day, we often don’t feel up to hitting the gym or going out. We just want to go home to collapse and recharge.
Our busy lives can make it hard to spend much quality time with friends and family. However, research suggests that we need to make this a priority, because social connections impact our health and wellness.
Rosan Gomperts, director of the Faculty Staff Help Center at Stanford, explained the importance of prioritizing relationships in a recent BeWell@Stanford interview:
Many studies show that there are distinct, positive physical and emotional benefits from having supportive social connections. Research suggests that illness rates are lower, as is premature death, for those who are socially connected. What seems eminently clear is that positive, supportive connections help people manage the stress of daily living better than people who do not have the outlet of someone who will listen and empathize with their experience.
Gomperts recommends several ways to expand your social connections, such as joining a book club or knitting club, taking a class or volunteering. The key is to find something that works for you. She explained:
For some people, getting out can be really hard — whether due to depression, social anxiety or a lack of time due to pressures in life. However, finding a way to connect is incredibly important, and there are Internet options that can be very useful.
Some people can also benefit from sharing their sense of isolation, loneliness or desire to have more social connections with a counselor or support group — such as those offered at the Faculty Staff Help Center.
Previously: How social connection can improve physical and mental health and How loneliness can impact the immune system
Photo by Heinrich-Böll-Stiflung