Monthly Archives: March 2016

Are you socially healthy?

Where are you more likely to forget about your worries? Lying on a couch in your own company or going out? (even if you don’t feel like it!)

Research has confirmed that there is a direct connection between social isolation, loneliness, and an increasing vulnerability towards poor health. It seems that people need people. Through connecting with each other we sustain better health outcomes. John Cacioppo, a social psychologist and neuroscientist at University of Chicago, has studied the biological effects of loneliness and has found that it is linked to dramatic increases in the stress hormone cortisol, hardening of the arteries (which leads to high blood pressure), inflammation in the body, and can diminish executive functioning e.g. learning and memory.

It's great to get chatting with family and friends. Going on a regular walk improves communication too!
It’s great to get chatting with family and friends. Going on a regular walk improves communication too!

Human beings are social creatures. We need to connect with each other. This social connectivity is needed to maintain physical health and longevity. Through social media platforms  like Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook we are connecting through a digital interface. This is better than not connecting at all. But we need to ensure that it is not replacing real human connection. By visiting friends, joining clubs, volunteering, attending social functions and welcoming new neighbours to our estate or road, we form key human bonds. These foster a stronger sense of community. Science indicates that we need face-to-face contact and intimate human connections in order to engage the biological systems that have evolved for millennia to preserve our well-being.


  1. Start at home. How many families sit at a table for dinner anymore? We need to connect better with the people we love. Ask them how they are doing? Enquire about the kind of day that they’ve had. Often family members can be found eating their own dinner in their own room in front their own screen!

  2. Ensure that there is a boundary between work and home. I have met people who regret not having got to know their children while they were growing up. Some people come home from work and start more work. Social connectivity is often a victim of workaholicism.

  3. As a family we need to do more things together at home. With technology family members can find themselves doing more of their own things on their own. We can become locked into our own worlds. Plan social events for family – weekends away (i.e. visiting relatives), picnics, walks, funfairs etc.

  4. Ensure that you have at least one room with no television in it. This should be the room dedicated to a lit fire and conversation.

  5. Invest in friendships. Often people talk about how they are blessed with a life-long friend. But sometimes there is little or no real social connection involved. We need to visit our friends and have them over to our homes. We need to plan social events together. This demands effort as we live busy lives. But just because you are unsuccessful at gathering friends together doesn’t mean that you should not try again.

  6. Be open to developing new friendships. Sometimes we sit beside the same people at work. We fail to offer a warm welcome or helping hand to a new member of staff. We should show an interest in all members of the team and avoid setting up exclusive cliques. There may be a wonderful new friend on the staff who you haven’t got to know yet.

  7. Volunteer! Offer your talents and support to a local charity and meet and work with new people. This will mean that you will engage in new conversations about new things – which will refresh your mind

  8. Accept as many kind invitations to parties or social gatherings as possible. It’s far too easy to lie on the couch/sofa watching repeat shows on the television.

    (c) Shane Martin