Our connection to others allows us to survive and thrive as humans. When we’re younger, life provides us with opportunities to develop new social relationships without us having to actively seek them out, whether it’s at school, college, the workplace, or meeting other parents through our children.
It’s impossible to predict when or where a friendship will blossom. They are frequently formed due to a similar interest or pastime, and members are typically brought together because they are in the same stage of life, such as new parents or retirees. People from comparable backgrounds and cultures also tend to bond over shared lifelong experiences. Although most of these connections take time to develop, friendship can sometimes strike like lightning. “Sometimes you might be in a big group of new people, and you catch someone’s eye, and it’s like ‘bang!’ – immediate friendship,” Degges-White said of the “clicking phenomena.” “It’s similar to that feeling of ‘love at first sight,’ but it’s a friendship, not a romance.” According to studies, those who have good friends are happier, less worried, and feel more like they belong than those who do not. Friendship is categorized into four types: acquaintance, friend, close friend and best friend, of which romance can often play a part. Over time, an increase in mutual respect and the degree of reciprocity builds up and strengthens friendship.
However, at some point, those opportunities cease to exist. At the same time, numerous variables cause our social networks to contract as we age. Friendships can drift away; you may relocate to a new city; divorce may play a role; and, of course, you can lose friends due to illness or even death. In this post, we’ll look at why it’s important to keep socially engaged as we get older and what benefits we can get from it:
Lengthens our lives
We’ve been taught repeatedly that getting enough fresh air, frequently exercising, eating a balanced diet, and stopping smoking and drinking all play important roles in helping us live long healthy lives.
However, a growing body of studies shows that another aspect, just as vital if we wish to live long lives, is our social ties.
Susan Pinker, a psychologist, travelled to Sardinia to discover why this Mediterranean island has so many centenarians. She discovered that while genes accounted for 25% of Sardinia’s high longevity rate, the remaining 75% was the lifestyle. Sardinians’ lives constantly intersected; people were always surrounded. Susan saw that the centenarians were never alone. They were not left to live isolated lives.
Reduces stress levels
Consider a period when you were dealing with a challenging scenario. Did you tell a friend about your problems? Could you open out to a loved one about your problems? If you answered yes, you understand how relieving it is to talk about your troubles with someone. Even if they cannot provide you with a solution or advice, it is liberating to unburden yourself to someone who listens without judgement.
Pinker says that “face-to-face contact releases transmitters that foster trust, reduce stress, kill pain, and induce pleasure… Dopamine is also generated, which gives us a little high which kills pain; a naturally produced morphine.”
Lowers the risk of dementia
Do you enjoy getting together with your pals regularly? If so, you’re doing fantastic things for your brain health! You are, in particular, lowering your risk of acquiring dementia. Dementia is not a single disease. There are numerous types of dementia, each with its own set of reasons. According to University College London research published in 2019, 60-year-old persons who connect with their friends virtually every day are 12% less likely to develop dementia than those who only meet one or two of their friends every few months. “We analysed social contact with both friends and family and found that contact with friends, rather than contact with relatives, tended to be protective,” Andrew Sommerlad, PhD, the study’s primary author, told Healthline.
People who communicate with their friends virtually daily are 12% less likely to develop dementia than those who only see one or two friends every few months. “
It’s never too late to reconnect with old friends or make new ones, no matter how old you are. So if you’re interested in the latter, you can join various social groups, clubs, and interest-based organisations. Spice Social is one such group dedicated to bringing like-minded people together. So join us now. If you prefer you can contact us or one of you local coordinators for more information