Why Is Being Social So Amazing For Mental Wellbeing
Improve your mental health by spending time with friends
How does being social help improve our mental wellbeing
Psychologist Susan Pinker suggests that direct person to person-contact triggers part of your nervous system that releases a blend of neurotransmitters that normalise the response to stress and anxiety, essentially implying that face to face contact makes us more resilient to stress.
This suggests we have a natural desire to connect with others and as well as the physical benefits we can measure; there's also the added benefits of finding comfort in others, being able to share experiences and using our friends to help put things into perspective for us or offer an outlet if we need to get ideas off our chest.
Human beings are a very social species; in fact, we can probably call ourselves 'The social species.' Being able to interact with others and work as a group is a reason our species has survived and flourished as it has meant we can protect each other from danger, solve problems faster and tackle issues together.
Furthermore, studies show that we are innately compassionate beings capable of empathy, which has served us exceptionally well – a capacity to care for others and share is our most useful trait and is also suggested to be something that we all look for in a potential partner.
This all suggests that humans need to be social and could explain why we benefit so much mentally from being around others because we have evolved to be social and therefore have passed on the many advantageous adaptations of our biology that either make us more social or enjoy the benefits of being social even more.
What happens to our brains when we socialise?
One intelligent thing our brains do is to release serotonin whenever we are in the presence of others. Serotonin helps us to stay calm and filter the most important messages or stimuli, meaning we are more likely to engage in better quality interaction with other people rather than being distracted by our thoughts.
Social interactions also generate dopamine, which gives us a little 'high,' and it can also help to relieve pain, which suggests that being social may play a small part in influencing how much pain we experience. Dopamine is also a feel-good neurotransmitter and gives us the feeling of being rewarded as well as influencing our levels of motivation.
Social motivation and social contact can help to improve memory formation and recall and can help protect the brain from neurodegenerative disorders. Countless other studies show being around others, and having close friends positively influences our mental agility.
Close Friendships make us happier.
Multiple studies have shown us that those who enjoy close friendships over their teenage years are just as happy as adolescents but also have a lower rate of depression and anxiety later in life. Bonds provide us with feelings of belonging, purpose, less stress, and an improved sense of self-esteem and confidence.
Many people today suffer from depression, and feelings of little self-worth often cause it, and like we serve no purpose. Being needed by others, it gives us a sense of worth, and when we feel like we are an essential member of a group or society, then we feel happy.
The benefits we would never think about
Being social can also offer us more structure. Studies link social connection with better health habits as research showed that socially active individuals have a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense. We are far more likely to snack on unhealthy food when we are on our own, most likely because we are bored.
Being around others and engaging in exciting conversations keeps our mind stimulated and decreases the chance of experiencing cravings.