How Social Connections Support Our
Holistic Wellness & Well-Being
Strong social connections are a cornerstone of our holistic wellness and well-being. They help us feel supported, accepted, and understood, and they can be a source of great joy and meaning in our lives.
As we age, our needs for social connection are often different than they were in younger years. We may want to spend more time with friends or family members who share similar values or interests, or perhaps we want to connect with others who share similar life experiences (i.e., being empty nesters or caregivers).
Many of us may find that these connections become even more important as we navigate life's challenges and transitions. For women over 40, the transition into menopause can also be a time when we find ourselves with less energy for socializing than usual. While some women experience intense mood swings during this transition period, others may notice that their energy levels have dropped off significantly — leaving them feeling exhausted by the end of the day.
But it's not just about having friends and family around you; it's also about choosing to invest time in your relationships with them. I know it's not always easy to find the time or energy to make that happen, but if you want to reap the benefits of strong social connections, you have to put in the effort to prioritize them.
Below are five ways in which social connections can support your holistic wellness and well-being:
1. Improved mental health:
Having a supportive network of friends and family can provide a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. This can be especially important as we age and may be more prone to feelings of loneliness. In fact, research shows that people with strong social networks have lower rates of depression.
2. Increased physical activity:
Social connections can also encourage us to be more physically active. Studies have shown that people who have strong social connections are more likely to engage in physical activities, such as walking or exercising with friends. Having a social network can also encourage you to get moving by setting goals with your friends and family members to join an exercise class, or participate in healthy challenges to keep each other accountable.
3. Greater access to support and resources:
Strong social connections can provide a sense of community and a network of support that can be helpful in times of need. Having people you can trust and turn to is an invaluable resource. This resource goes beyond providing a sounding board to bounce your ideas off of or a listening ear when you need to talk. Through these connections, you can access a whole network of support
and resources that makes life easier and more enjoyable.
4. Increased self-esteem:
Having a strong support system shows you that others care about you and that you have value - this makes it easier for you to care about yourself, and to make choices that are good for your mind, body, and soul.
5. Enhanced cognitive functioning:
Research suggests that social connections can improve cognitive functioning, including memory and problem-solving skills. Not only does this mean that we can more effectively tackle tasks at work or home, but it also means that we can stay sharp as we age. Social connections may even help brain cells stay healthy throughout the aging process.
So, how can we build and maintain meaningful social connections?
Here are a few tips:
Get out your comfort zone and seek out opportunities to meet new people: This could involve joining a club or organization, volunteering, or attending events or classes.
Nurture existing relationships: Make time for friends and family, and be proactive about maintaining these connections.
Connect online: While online connections can't replace in-person interactions, they can be a great way to stay connected with people you may not see in person on a regular basis.
Find a support group: Joining a support group can be a great way to connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges.
Overall, it's important to remember that social connections are an essential part of our holistic wellness and well-being. By actively building and nurturing these connections, we can improve our mental, emotional, and physical health as well as help build a stronger community for ourselves and those around us.