Autumn marks the official start of back-to-school season, and, unfortunately, the cold and flu season too. You’re already eating a balanced diet that includes healthy organic coconut oil, and you know how important stress management is to building and maintaining a strong immune system. There’s just one more thing you might need to boost your immune system—a new friend!
Western medicine now understands how strong the link between our psychological and physical health really is. Your state of mind can seriously affect the onset and progression of a variety of health issues, including serious diseases like cancer. New studies go so far as to suggest friendships and strong social networks actually increases your ability to stay healthy and fight disease. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) reports that strong social connections are linked to health benefits such as having a greater pain tolerance, a lowered risk of depression and early death and a stronger immune system.
It Takes More than Hand Sanitizer to Boost Your Immune System
Kids know how to make friends easily, and they typically have many opportunities to do so. For adults who work and take care of a family, finding time for friendships can be difficult. But a lack of friends in your life is more than just an inconvenience when you need a ride to the airport. A study from Brigham Young University found that a lack of strong social connections had roughly the same negative health impact on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And it’s twice as risky as obesity. Being alone is not necessarily the problem, but being lonely is what poses the health risk. Frequent feeling of isolation are what trigger the negative health impacts.
According to experts, one or two good friends are not enough to reap the health benefits of friendship. Active and diverse social connections are the remedy. As adults, we tend to lose connections once we’re immersed in raising children or building a career, and even more so as we reach retirement age. Where does a grown-up make friends these days? Social media is nice, but it’s no replacement for live human contact. You can boost your immune system and your social life by taking some classes, joining a travel group and saying yes when friends invite you to go places. Still don’t know how to reach out? Focus on your own interests. If you’ve always been interested in aromatherapy or cooking or birdwatching take a workshop or join a club that appeals to you. That way you know you’ll have at least one thing in common with you’re your new group of potential friends. The more diverse your social circles are, the more likely you will develop meaningful bonds with a variety of people. Here’s to your health!