The Christmas holidays are the time of the year to see friends and family. It is a time to reconnect with those we value most. And for your health’s sake, you should not miss the chance to reconnect with your loved ones. Our social support system is important for our health and wellbeing. It is always saddening to see how many people feel lonely and how desperately some patients need stronger social ties.
Knowing that your friends are there if you need them brings comfort. A strong support system has been shown to reduce stress, provide feelings of security, an improved sense of self-worth and a sense of belonging. Studies show that positive social exchanges enhance well-being and reduce mortality risks.[i]
The opposite is also true; we know that unhealthy relationships are predictive of future health problems.[ii] For instance, studies have shown that strained relationships between partners are a cause of major stress and affect sleep.[iii] Friends and family also prevent loneliness which is associated with depression, heart disease, and poor immunity. Lonely adults tend to exercise less, suffer from insomnia more, consume more alcohol and have diets that are higher in fat.[iv]
It is always inspiring to see patients thriving amongst adversity. More often than not, those patients tend to rely on helping hands in challenging times.
So this holiday season, go out, have fun and reconnect with your friends.
Ludo Brunel, ND
[ii] Walen H. Lachman M. Social Support and Strain from Partner, Family, and Friends: Costs and Benefits for Men and Women in Adulthood. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships February 2000 vol. 17no. 1 5-30
Examining the Influences of Contact Frequency and Relationship Quality. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. June 2012 vol. 53 no. 2 248-262
[iv] Cacioppo, J. T., Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (in press). Alone in the crowd: The structure and spread of loneliness in a large social network. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.