ANR Health: Social Health

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Social Health

My husband says if it weren't for me, he would be a hermit.  Probably true.  I make all our social engagements.  On the way home from going to the theater with friends he'll comment what a good time he had and THANK me for making the arrangements. We usually take one trip a year with friends and he again thanks me for making it happen, admitting he never would.

A Harvard Health Publications in July, 2010, reported that  "a major survey of 127,545 American adults found that married men are healthier than men who were never married or whose marriages ended in divorce or widowhood." 

A good marriage promotes the health of men on three levels. 

  1. Biologically, happily married men have less stress which means lower blood pressure and less inflammation of the heart leading to cardiac risks. 
  2. Behaviorally, these men tend to eat better, exercise more, smoke and drink less and get regular medical checkups. 
  3. Psychologically, happily married men are not likely to be depressed, lonely or socially isolated.
A study by The New England Research Institute  found 66% of men rely on their wives for their primary social contacts, 21% rely on other people and 10% have no social supports. Wives are providing a life sustaining service for their husbands!

Social isolation is not just a risk for men.  Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, has research showing that isolated people are at a risk for mortality three times as high as those people who are married, have many friends and relatives and/or belong to voluntary or religious groups.

I am not a social butterfly and I don't need a packed calendar to be happy, but rather I know the importance of being socially connected. Our kids complain that I'm too busy.  My answer is would you rather I am busy with friends, volunteering, and being active or sitting in the house watching soaps and eating bon bons?  By nature I am shy, hate to "work a room" at parties and would be perfectly happy just puttering in my garden everyday.  But when I do that, I find myself feeling isolated, down, and tired.

Being socially connected takes work to establish. Just like any healthy routine, you have to be proactive. As I tell my husband, you call your friends, don't wait for them to call.

Be socially engaged:
  • Call a friend for lunch, a walk, or shopping.
  • As a couple, call other couples to play golf, tennis or cards.
  • Volunteer (Studies show that people who volunteer are mentally and physically healthier)
  • Join a group - a book club, church group.

 It doesn't matter what you do, it just matters that you are interacting with other people in positive ways. 
Get out of the house, off the couch, have a conversation with another being other than the cat.

1 comment:

  1. It is easy to become isolated when you can not remember the words you want to use while having a conversation. When this happens it's very embarrassing so avoiding interactions with others is much easier.
    Mind Support by ANRhealth has certainly helped improve my Social-Health: