It’s common for people to feel socially isolated at times, not enjoying going out and sometimes wanting to avoid people. But is it important to be social? The answer is yes! Too much isolation is harmful, and research has shown that having social connection is as important to health as diet and exercise.
There has been a lot of research into this area and while more research is still needed, there are many benefits that have been found so far:
- Feeling less lonely. One of the most obvious ones is that when we feel connected to others, we feel less lonely and more supported.
- Decreased feeling of depression. Neurobiological research has shown that dopamine is generated during social interactions. This has been shown to increase mood.
- Increase wellbeing.
- Less anxiety and stress. Social interactions have been shown to lower cortisol levels which is associated with reducing stress and anxiety.
- Increased self-esteem. There are many ways social interactions can boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- Increased coping skills. Socialisation assists people to acquire and use a range of coping skills that they may never had learnt without social interaction.
- Increased ability to learn and memory functioning. Social interactions stimulate the brain, promote learning and improve memory function.
- Increased immune system. Socialising has been showed to boost your immune system. You are better able to fight off flu’s and colds.
- Decreased level of pain. This happens because brain chemicals (oxytocin and dopamine) are released during social interaction which lowers pain.
So, what counts as social connection?
People are increasingly interacting with one another over phones and social media, however face-to-face social connections have been shown to have the best outcome for health and wellbeing. Research into the brain shows that interacting face-to-face with people releases brain hormones (oxytocin and dopamine) which increases mood, lowers pain levels and decreases other hormones (cortisol) which lowers stress.
You can increase your social connection by dropping into your local Mates4Mates Family Recovery Centre or joining one of our social activities.
Find out more If any content in this article resonates with you and you’d like to speak with someone at Mates4Mates about seeking support, contact us to find out more about our services. All Mates4Mates services are available for current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members with physical injuries or mental health issues, and their families.