Maintain Your Social Network for Health and Happiness
I learned the hard way that social networks are important for health and happiness. Loneliness can be dangerous. I know. I spent five years living abroad, separated from my friends and family, with only the occasional visit back home. During this time I felt isolated, alone, and suffered one of the worst and longest depressive episodes of my life. This difficult experience, however, taught me an invaluable lesson. By being so lonely, I learned the importance and necessity of maintaining a social network for my health and happiness.
What Is Your Social Network? How Does It Keep You Happier?
A social network is the web of interpersonal relationships you have, both online and offline. These relationships vary in the number of people in the network, how connected you are to those people, and the level of support those people provide to you.
When you think about your network, focus on the latter two qualities and ask yourself these questions:
- Do you stay connected to your network, if so how?
- Do you get support from your network, if so how?
Both of these are particularly important questions if you want to improve your health and happiness.
Social Networks Improve Health and Happiness
Many studies have shown social networks improve physical health. In general, your sense of being connected reduces risk-related behaviors such as smoking and drinking, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity. On top of that, connecting with others also leads to a longer life span, reduced incidences of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and enhanced immune function.
Social networks also produce positive psychological effects. They increase your sense of belonging and security and elevate your self-esteem (Connecting with Others, Friendship Enhances Mental Health). As a result, when you have a strong social network, you are more likely to be emotionally resilient, handle anxiety, stress, and depression better, and experience an overall sense of wellbeing.
The science is clear. When you maintain your social networks, you keep yourself healthier and happier.
Maintain Your Social Network to Be Healthy and Happy
When you’re feeling emotionally strong, invest in your social network. That’s when it’s probably easier for you to call up or email a friend to chat, invite a work colleague to lunch, or attend to a family gathering.
If you build your social capital during the periods when you're feeling emotionally strong, you can bank that capital and cash it in later when you aren't feeling as strong, when you need a little help from your friends.
When you feel low, allow your network to support you. Maintain your social network, because it's another resource you can use to help maintain your health and happiness.
- Berkman LF, Glass T, Brissette I, Seeman TE (2000). From Social Integration to Health: Durkheim in the New Millennium. Social Sci & Med 51:843-857
- Cohen S (2004). Social Relationships and Health. Am Psychol 59(8): 676-684.
- Kawachi I, Berkman LF (2001). Social Ties and Mental Health. J Urban Health 78(3):458-467.
- Umberson D & Montez JK (2010). Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy. J Health Soc Behave 51:S54-S66.
Image courtesy of flick user Ashley Webb.
Morin, S. (2016, August 9). Maintain Your Social Network for Health and Happiness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, June 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingablissfullife/2016/08/maintain-your-social-network-for-health-and-happiness
Author: Silke Morin
Maintaining social network indicates second step to be accepted and develop healthy social network. The first one is to create friendship that is insufficient undertaking to be health and happy, as well. Se regards as for to maintain healthy relationship, it ought to know that it depend of personal engagement and investment to this interpersonal relationship. So, it should be empathic and pro-social person with positive and benevolent will and intention. On the other hand it ought to clarifying oneself mind and feeling from any negative rear. Besides these social personal and emotional features it should be careful on the personal characteristic to the friends with you want to be connected. Negative and antisocial persons aren't the choice for friendship and they should be avoiding as much as possible. Otherwise, your social network would be toxic and very dangerous for your global wellbeing. The last one remark is crucial for healthy and supportive friendship as primary factor for happy and healthy personal life. In this direction, the affinity to select the friends exhibits important step of strong and solidary social network. Summary, it is value to explore and to investigate carefully personal social network, as underground of physical, mental and social welfare.
I completely agree with you. Ensuring that the social network you cultivate and maintain is one that promotes your well being is crucial.
When I have felt down and made mention of it. I was called a negative nancy by a niece and then my nephew got nasty to me. I have since blocked them from my newsfeed and facebook. My daughter hasn't talked to me in 16years
My sister just passed away. My family never invites me to anything. And I am sorry that I express myself Sometimes.
Oh, Regina. I'm sorry that your experience has not been positive. I do think that when you maintain social networks it needs to be with people who support you. Sometimes our family is who we choose to be in our lives, not the actual blood relations we have. I hope that you have friends who are supportive.
Now I see I did! Excuse my confusion, it's very hothere and Icm half asleep
I thought I posted an answer but I guess I didn't!
Could you tell me what an Ironman race is?
An Ironman is a triathlon - a race made of swimming, cycling, and running. There is one in Mallorca next month. http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/emea/ironman/mallorca.aspx#axzz4Hn8u1YmH
Ironman race? What's that?
Wow! It feels so good to have a response! Thank you Silke!
Yes, I will try harder, I know it's worth it!
And just receiving a response gives me strength!
Don't think of it as trying harder. Think of it as trying differently. Just try something new and see what happens. For example, there is a Ironman race in Mallorca next month. Perhaps you could volunteer. Good luck, girl!
This is one of the aspects of my life that troubles me most. After years of substance abuse (and I mean YEARS) I've been claen four 5 years now, though medicated for depression and generalised anxiety disorder. I have a job I basically like, a partner who helps me in many ways, but not socializing. I had to give up lots and lots of «friends», and around here there are no support groups (Mallorca, Spain), and can't seem to get myself to reach out more, like seeing my co workers outside work, but Ican't seem to get it together to do so. I guess it's easier to sit around and think about it anxiously! Aghhhhh!
Hi Saskia, First of all, congrats on 5 years of being clean. That's awesome. Second, I'm sorry you're having trouble finding support. I know it's hard to reach out, especially when you're anxious or depressed. It can be stressful and/or overwhelming. Are there any organizations you can join to meet people? Hobbies? Those would be my suggestions. Just put yourself out there, even though it may feel uncomfortable initially, and meet new people.
Great advice. It is so easy when depressed to withdraw altogether.
When I am not up to being out and about with people I have a sister (who lives far away) that I talk to most days and find my mood is always elevated after that chat. And when I am really in a seriously low state I have a group of three friends who will pray. I reach out to them by email and the prayers begin! They know I don't feel like a chat but they support me that way.
And then they email sometimes the next day to see how I am doing.
I don't find social media gives me that much. I enjoy it occasionally but doesn't fill that need for connection.
Hi Wendy, Somehow your response escaped me, so I'm just now seeing it. I'm glad that you have a sister and a prayer group to reach out to. It's nice to know that there are others out there actively wishing you wellness and happiness.