We all know that we are innately social creatures. We are born into social groups and thrive when connecting with other members.
After all, in order for a species to survive, its members have to not only procreate, but also be able to protect their offspring from harm and shield peers from injury.
But external factors – like the Covid-19 pandemic – make face-to-face social interaction more difficult. What happens when that social structure is removed?
It turns out – perhaps unsurprisingly – that disconnection has a negative impact on our physical health and mental well-being.
Psychologist Susan Pinker states that direct person-to-person contact triggers parts of our nervous system that release a “cocktail” of neurotransmitters tasked with regulating our response to stress and anxiety.
She also adds that social interaction also triggers a release of dopamine, which gives us a little high and kills pain – like a natural morphine.
The way the body reacts is just the tip of the ice burg.
We learn and grow based on what our peers are doing. Basically, we tend to mimic or mirror the healthy habits of those around us. It might be that just being around people who encourage us to keep healthful habits or achieve challenging lifestyle goals could help us to remain mindful of our eating, exercise, and other lifestyle-related habits.
Plus, just the act of enjoying close social ties — with friends, partners, or family members — can make us happy and improve our overall life satisfaction in the long run.
Most people think that the keys to health are diet and exercise. But that definition is far too narrow and neglects this third and vital component- socialization with others.
Along with diet and exercise, socialization completes the trifecta of a healthy mind and body.
So, even if you’re a staunch introvert, make it a priority to connect with other people at least once a day. Research shows that even seeing someone on a screen (or through glass) can trigger that dopamine release that contributes to a feeling of wellness. Plus, you never know what kinds of healthy habits you might pick up along the way!