Most people are instinctively attracted to interacting with others, and there’s a growing body of scientific evidence that suggest the reason behind this behavior is that it offers many distinct advantages. Individuals not only benefit materially from being with others, these activities provide measurable physical and emotional benefits. If you are accustomed to being a shut-in or being an introvert, there’s nothing wrong with spending time alone to recharge; however, you might benefit from going out and adding a bit more social interaction to your life. Here are 5 of the ways that increased social interaction can help make you a healthier and happier person.
Improved Physical Function
Social interaction has a way of improving physical condition that is not always obvious. People talk more, gesture more frequently and move around more to stay engaged. These actions have the result of improving muscle tone, regulating heart rate and lowering blood pressure. If you’re accustomed to working out alone, try jogging together with someone else. This will give you more of an incentive to run longer as a form of light competition or simply being accounted for.
Stronger Immune System Function
A study provided a surprising result. Individuals who interacted socially with others were better able to resist becoming ill when they were exposed to cold germs. It appears that interacting on a regular basis helps to “prime” immune system function, so that the individual can fight off germs more effectively. Being on your own doesn’t expose you to enough different pathogens to build up an immunity to a variety of them. Being alone too much may cause you to get sick!
Sharper Mental Acuity
Interacting with other people also helps maintain mental sharpness and recall. When people get together, they share their experiences, memories and viewpoints. All of this information must be processed in the brain, visualized and compared to experience of one’s own. This mental activity helps to keep people sharper and more mentally engaged.
Depression is a common problem in older people. Many older people become depressed because of the isolation they experience from reduced mobility, making it difficult for them to have the opportunities to engage with others. Some families find that contracting with home facilities that offer daily or weekly home care visits, such as Baywood Home Care, provide the social interaction elders need to stay positive and engaged. In addition, caregivers can also provide transportation and assistance to help them attend local activities.
Improved Sleep Patterns
Social interaction can also help to promote better sleep. When individuals interact together, they share ideas, images and information that form new neural connections in the brain. The brain responds by using sleep to process this new information. So when you interact with others, you are also providing the conditions to help you sleep more soundly.
Even the most introverted individuals need physical and emotional contact with others to provide mental stimulation and emotional support. If you have an elderly relative that is beginning to grow more isolated because of illness or physical disability, consider the options available that can help them become more social. Though you may not be able to spend more time caring for their needs, a number of services are available to help. Your efforts will help your loved one maintain better physical health and improved mental function.