You are concerned about your nutrition. You work out regularly and make an effort to sleep well each night. However, you may have overlooked one critical component of a healthy body and mind: a vibrant social life.
How does social interaction affect your brain?
Research increasingly demonstrates, are critical for brain health strong and social relationships. Social interaction can boost attention and memory while also assisting in the strengthening of brain networks. You may be smiling and talking, but your brain is hard at work. This increase in brain effort eventually pays off.
According to scientists, individuals with strong social relationships are less likely to develop cognitive decline than individuals who spend most of their time alone. Indeed, one major study with over 12,000 participants found that when people are lonely, their chance of developing dementia increases by as much as 40%.
Are you feeling disoriented? Three strategies for re-engaging
It can be challenging to maintain social connections as we age. Friendships may ebb and flow throughout time, and family members are frequently preoccupied with their own lives. Additionally, the epidemic has made it increasingly difficult to meet individuals in person. Therefore, how do you re-engage?
Three-pointers to get you started are included below.
Rekindle long-forgotten friendships.
Reconnecting with excellent friends with whom you've lost touch over the years is one of the simplest methods to discover satisfying partnerships. Because you have a common background, it's frequently easier to begin up where you left off. Social networking may be a simple method to reconnect with individuals from your past and re-establish a connection that has lapsed. Alternatively, scan your address book and contact individuals by phone or email.
Prioritize quality over quantity.
Relationships are not all made equal. Interpersonal interactions that are stressful might really have a negative effect on your health. According to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2021, women who reported high levels of social pressure were more likely to have severe heart issues over a 15-year period than women who did not. While this study did not examine brain health explicitly, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline share a number of risk factors. Other research has established a correlation between tumultuous relationships and other physical or mental health issues. Therefore, it is preferable to focus your time on a small number of connections that calm and complete you, rather than attempting to extend your social circle by incorporating people who deplete you.
Consider a variety of possible connections.
If you are unable to leave, find alternative ways to communicate with friends and relatives. While some older individuals are hesitant to embrace technological tools, they may help you maintain contact with friends and family even when you are unable to meet them in person. Make a video call to a buddy or send an email to a loved one using a smartphone. While this is not a substitute for a face-to-face chat, it can be beneficial when in-person encounters are not feasible. Numerous libraries and towns provide free or low-cost options for online social interaction, such as reading groups, town-wide debates, and creative classes. A local library or senior centre may be able to direct you to a variety of similar options.
Finally, the more receptive you are to new experiences and people, the more likely you are to develop relationships with individuals who can assist you in maintaining good health long into the future.