Feel Good Friday

Socializing is Key to a Healthy Life

WOOHOO!  It’s Friday and who’s ready for the weekend?

Have you ever opted to stay in on a Friday night or maybe even the whole weekend avoiding being social?  I know sometimes we need rest and me time, BUT did you know social networking enhances your well-being?  Your mind and your body can actually react negatively to not socializing for more than a day.   Are all the introverts cringing, I know I was.  Yes, we are a little shyer and seem to flourish with more alone time than others, but the truth is if you isolate too much, it could lead to loneliness and reduce your quality of life.

Some of the best healthy lifestyle coaches will tell you having a great network of friends and family can boost happiness and health, as well as make you feel more connected to the world at large.

If you don’t make time for social commitments, you can’t build deeper connections with people.  You are at risk of missing out on memorable moments and good fun.  Here are some things which happen to your body and mind when you don’t socialize for more than a day.

1. Poor Self-Esteem

People who continuously isolate themselves day in and day out, tend to develop poor body image and self esteem over time.  Think back to those middle school years, I know for some a painful memory.  The truth is that a girl’s self-esteem peaks at the age of 9 years old and only 4% of women describe themselves as beautiful.  Something as simple as socializing could make a difference.

2. Depression

Studies show depression can be associated with isolating yourself and not socializing for more than a day at a time. Now, I am not advocating going out to happy hour every day, but it’s important to talk with co-workers, phone a friend, or attend a fitness class, so you can see people you know and care about during the day.  Believe it or not,  if you don’t, your mental health could suffer.

3. Loss Of Reality

According to an interview published in the Huffington Post, if you binge watch TV shows (of any kind of show) when they come to an end, it can trigger depression.  Why?  The inability to decipher between fiction and personal reality and when you tune into media too often it can interfere with the brain.  Personally, I think it would take a whole lot of BINGE watching.  What do you think?

4. Body Chills

Did you know you can literally feel chills from isolation in social circles.  If you aren’t surrounded by warmth and comfort, and you are isolating yourself regularly, you might notice a decrease in body temperature and increase in body chills.  Okay, I am ALWAYS cold so I am not sure I buy this one and yes I am an introvert.

5. Decreased Ability To Learn

Studies show lonely people are less able to do well with puzzles and mind games, due to the rewiring in the brain. I do puzzles ALOT to help re-wire my brain from the MS lesions and seem to do just fine.  Doing a puzzle with a friend would definitely be fun but I do enjoy the quiet time with my puzzles.

6. Decreased Sense Of Empathy

A research study shows people who are lonely are less empathetic than happier, socializing people, when shown pictures of pleasant and unpleasant scenarios.  According to this, when you isolate, you’re changing your brain and may hinder your ability to feel and love as well as others can.  Lonely = less empathy?  I always thought you would have more because you could understand the feelings others are having in unpleasant situations.

7. Inflammation

Did you know when you isolate, it lowers your quality of life which can cause depression and stress, which then shows up in the body as inflammation. Inflammation can lead to bloating, increased risk of illnesses, digestive issues, and inability to function.  Or it could be symptoms of a bigger problem?

8. Shorter Life Span

According public health professor at the University College London, being socially isolated for more than one day can lead to a shorter life which actually means dying at a younger age.  I have heard of people dying from a broken heart but it is usually when someone they love has passed away.  So, do we die from the isolation or the fact we are sitting on our butts, eating junk and not physically active?  Think about it, aren’t you more apt to be social when you are feeling good, after a walk or some type of physical activity?

9. Reduced Resilience

Whatever your reason for isolating, remember social interactions are crucial for a person’s happiness. Close, loving relationships and social interactions lead to the development of resilience, coping skills, and higher self-esteem. We all want to have high self-esteem, right?

Now, don’t shoot the messenger because I am not sure I agree with all of these things.  I do believe staying home too often, not being around people (family or friends) can have a negative impact on your life.  Talk a walk and interact with people.  It’s worth getting out more and making plans with friends, family, and co-workers.

Being around people and having close connections can be such a joy in life, so try to embrace it and find a happier balance between solo nights and those with others.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel

A Solution for Loneliness

Today’s blog is from NICKI KOZIARZ and first appeared in Encouragement for Today:

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone …’” Genesis 2:18a (HCSB)

I’m in the midst of a challenging project for my career. And maybe challenging projects are exciting to you, but what it really means for me is sitting for hours on end in sweatpants starring at a blinking cursor.

Showers have become optional.

Reading documents aloud to your dog starts to feel normal.

And cereal accounts for dinner at least two nights a week.

This project is my dream. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a lifetime. So, I feel badly for the next words I’m about to say. But, this dream feels incredibly … lonely.

Most days, it’s just me and my thoughts for hours and hours. Sometimes I’ll email a few thoughts to a friend and ask her honest opinion on it, but 90% of the time, it’s just me and my thoughts.

And when that’s the company you keep for days, your thoughts can mess with you:

You can’t really do this.

They picked the wrong woman for this project.

Deadlines and the other demands have made this season almost impossible to incorporate time with friends. But as I’ve talked with other women, it seems I’m not alone in my loneliness struggle.

I hear women all the time say, “I feel so … isolated.”

For some, it has to do with hectic schedules — there’s no time for friendships. Others have been deeply wounded by people — there’s no desire for community. And many, like me, are in a different season of life than others in their circle of friends.

But the other day, a friend unexpectedly stopped by to pick up something. A family member opened the door, while I was in sweatpants, hadn’t had a shower and really just wanted to sit in my office. But I knew my friend would think it very rude if I didn’t at least say hello.

So I took a deep breath, excused my appearance (which thankfully she cared nothing about) and we ended up in an hour-long conversation. We didn’t talk about work or deadlines … we just shared about our lives.

And it was the most refreshing hour I’d had in a long time. I left that conversation with confidence to get back into my working rhythm.

As I read Genesis 2:18a, I was reminded how from the very beginning, God designed us to be in relationship with others: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone, …’”

Although this verse refers to the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, it’s clear God created us with a longing, a need, to have people speak into our lives.

It’s so easy for us to forget this. Or let our pride convince us we don’t need people in our corner. Isolation’s biggest lie is that we somehow are capable of thriving through life without someone by our side.

So my friend, I don’t know if this is your struggle today or if it’s one to come. But keep that lunch date, take the time to pick up the phone to chat and invite those people back into your life.

I promise … it’s worth it.

Dear God, help me see the people You have put in my life as a gift from You, for my good. Let me embrace them and invest my time into relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

“Giving myself away so others smile”