A recent study finds that 65 percent of us spend more time with our computer than our significant other. The only surprising thing about that bit of research is that it’s not surprising. We have become an increasingly tech-tied world, and more and more we relate to others by virtue of an electronic device. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but if all our connections live in a virtual world, then Houston, we have a problem.
Your Linked in community may number in the thousands, but they can’t compare to the friend next store who you can kvetch with over coffee, or your sister, the first person you call when you have good—or bad—news. Then there’s your girls’ night out pals, spending time with good friends is a sure-fire stress-buster.
Having a circle of family members, friends and co-workers to swap stories with, to lean on and to support, is essential for our mental and physical health. Without those connections, stress wears us down more easily, leaving us more fatigued and vulnerable to illness.
For over two decades study after study has documented the protective effect that strong social ties have against disease. It lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. Those people with few social connections are far more likely to experience poor mental health, poor physical health and to die prematurely.
As we age, strong social ties can also help us maintain an active mind. In a study of more than 2,800 people ages 65 or older, Harvard researchers found that those people with at least five social ties—church groups, social groups, or family and friends—were less likely to suffer cognitive decline than those seniors who didn’t. And people with strong social ties rate themselves as happier, more satisfied and more fulfilled.
The bottom line, good relationships make us healthier, happier, less stressed and that makes us energized. So continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship and take the time to spend time with the people you love. If you don’t have a circle of close friends nearby, then connect with like-minded people through church or civic groups, book clubs or cooking class. And don’t limit connections to the human variety. Animals offer unconditioned love, and an energy that can be contagious. So connect with others. It will protect against sickness and disease, lower stress and increase energy.
By Jonny Bowden, PhD, C.N.S., is the author of The 150 Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The surprising unbiased truth about what you should eat and why, and The 150 Healthiest Meals on Earth. This article is adapted from his latest book, The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy. For more information, visit www.jonnybowden.com