How Your Social Life Could Be Affecting Your Health

September 19, 2017

Having a healthy social life is crucial to our overall health and wellbeing. Prolonged periods of loneliness are associated with much higher rates of both mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, and physical ailments. The science we have so far suggests that prolonged periods of depression lead to a weakened immune system and make people more susceptible to disease and infection.

Understanding exactly how our social lives correlate to our health is helpful as there are clearly some kinds of socializing which are not good for our health. We all like to go out and celebrate now and then, for example, but consuming excessive amounts of alcohol will have negative effects on our health in the short-term, and in the long-term if we indulge too regularly. According to one psychologist, when we are out with friends, we tend to try and match one another with food; if one of us eats, the person we are with will also want to.

Effects of Isolation

Feelings of isolation can be significant contributors to an individual’s chance of an early death. Social isolation is associated not only with an earlier death, but also with generally worse health. It is only relatively recently that we have begun to truly understand the subtle interplay between our social interactions and our physical health. We have understood the negative emotional impacts of isolation for quite some time, but only in the last few years have we gathered the shocking evidence that social isolation can raise one’s chances of death by between 50% and 90%.

The correlation between an individual’s social life and their overall health is a strong one and even though it has taken us some time to establish it definitively, we are now certain of it. A new potential social crisis has been revealed as Western societies, in particular, are now contending with an increasingly aging population. There is already a recognized problem of loneliness amongst old people and there is a notable lack of viable policy solutions currently on offer. In fact, the issue has been largely overlooked in most places.

The often cited Harvard Study of Adult Development followed two groups of men in Boston for 75 years, it found that those who reported having more relationships were also much more likely to be emotionally and physically healthier than those who were more isolated. Since that famous study, there have been a number of others that have produced similar results and we now consider the correlation between the two variables to be very strong.

There are a number of other factors which are also important when we are considering the overall health of an individual but, despite all the evidence, there is still a surprising lack of awareness surrounding the impact of isolation on an individual’s health.

Getting Ready to Meet New People

Meeting new people is now easier than it ever has been. This doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone though. What is important is that, if you want to meet new people, you need to be proactive about it. Many of us end up sinking into daily routines that prioritize familiarity and predictability over new experiences. Once you’ve made the decision to meet new people, then you have already taken the first step, you now just need to put your plan into action.

The best places to meet new people are places that provide a natural ice-breaker and material for further conversation. This itself removes the biggest hurdle that most of us have in meeting new people: making the right first impression. It is also good to choose somewhere where you have a good chance of meeting the same people again. If your encounters are only going to be fleeting then it won’t be easy to build a lasting bond on the back of it. You should also aim to meet people who you know share at least some interests with you as these will provide you with natural avenues for conversation and bonding opportunities.

Resolving to break your routine and actually summoning the will to do it are two very different propositions. You will need to employ all the willpower you can in order to make lasting changes to daily routines and attitudes. Some people are just more comfortable with their own company and that is fine, but it is also good to have people to reach out to now and then. Adding new hobbies is always a good way of meeting new people who have a similar interest to you.

A number of people have turned to CB radio as a new hobby that allows them to meet likeminded people. Because CB radio communications don’t require a face to face interaction, many people find it a much easier way of communicating with people until they get to know them better. It is worth looking into if you are looking to meet new people and have an interest in radio. Look online to find the best CB radio for you.

The right approach to meeting new people will vary between individuals; there is no right or wrong way of going about this. The only way to know which method works best for you is to experiment and try different things. You also have to be comfortable with a certain degree of rejection. Remember, it doesn’t reflect badly on you if you don’t get along with someone; sometimes personalities just don’t match, there’s nothing you can do about it. What’s important is to focus on the interactions that do work and to build and nurture these.

Where to Meet New People

The most common avenue used to meet new people is through someone we already know; whether it is a friend, a significant other, a family member, it could be anybody! Meeting people through people we already know is effective as there is a better chance of us getting along with them. Meeting someone through an existing acquaintance also offers a natural icebreaker and gives you a start point for your conversation. Then, by asking how you both know your mutual friend, you will discover more about each other. Having a mutual friend also means that a form of ‘pre-screening’ has taken place and there’s less chance of you seriously clashing with them.

Work is another common source of new acquaintances; of course, how effective this is will depend entirely on where you work. Those working for a small retailer, for example, will probably already know the other people that they work with relatively well. By contrast, a big department store, or a large office, might have so many employees in one building that it is impossible for everyone to know everyone else. If this is the case, then you have the perfect source of new people to meet. Some people find that they struggle to lead a good social life because of their job. If you think that your job is impacting your social life to the degree that it is interfering with your general health, then it might be worth considering looking for a new position, or swapping some shifts. Nothing is more important than your health!

Similarly to work, volunteering is a great way to meet new people. People you meet through volunteering are likely to share at least some interests with you and again, volunteering offers a natural ice breaker. The great thing about volunteering is that the hours you work are much more flexible than a full time job and you only have to put in a few hours a week.

You could even combine your search for some new friends with some personal self improvement. Taking classes is a great way to meet some likeminded people and to improve one’s own understanding of a particular subject or craft. You can take classes in just about anything you can think of, which means you can choose something that is likely to attract people with particular interests or hobbies that you share.

Like classes, there are an endless number of clubs, run both by individuals and organizations. Just as with classes, when you join a club you know you are going to be meeting people who share a particular interest with you. Book clubs, for example, are a great way to meet people who also enjoy reading. They will also provide you with an almost endless supply of things to talk about. Most book clubs encourage discussion between members and engaging in these discussions will help you to build confidence.

How to Find Events and Clubs

Modern technology has made it incredibly easy to find other people with shared interests to us. Online games are present in most homes now and every time we play one of these we are connecting with other people. In fact, virtual interactions may well become a central part of our social lives in the future. Search engines such as Google are a good place to start. Searching on your smartphone’s app store, and on a search engine, will also bring you back a number of results.

Maintaining a healthy social life is crucial to maintaining your overall health. Never underestimate the importance of friendships and of building and sustaining close bonds with other people.


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