Why Having a Social Circle is Important for Your Mental Health
Mental health impacts every part of our lives, from finding meaning and purpose to falling asleep at night. A caring social circle provides numerous psychological and physical benefits. Maintaining positive social connections is one of the best things you can do to support your mental health.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Strong Circle of Friends?
Not all friendships are supportive or uplifting, but there are many mental and physical benefits to having a positive group of friends and family:
- Improved physical health, including a more robust immune system
- Sharper cognitive skills, including better memory and a lower risk of dementia
- A longer life expectancy
- Better lifestyle habits, like exercising and eating well
- A greater sense of meaning and self-worth
- An improved ability to cope during difficult times
- Better overall mental health
How Social Circles Impact Our Mental Health
Social relationships play a key role in having good mental health. One of the main reasons for this is that friends and family provide emotional support.
If you struggle with a mental illness, like depression or anxiety, friendships can help you cope and feel better. Supportive friends can reduce feelings of isolation, boost self-confidence and self-worth, and provide a distraction from rumination and negative thoughts. Friendship alone cannot cure mental illness, but people with strong, positive relationships often fare better.
On the other hand, few social connections or limited time spent with others can be harmful to your mental health. For instance, researchers have found that older adults and new moms—two groups of people more likely to be isolated—have a greater risk of depression.
Tips to Maintain a Solid Social Network
Making friends as children is natural and easy. As people get older, it becomes more difficult to forge social connections. Friendships often fall by the wayside as the demands of life become greater. However, it’s definitely worth the effort to build and maintain a positive social network. Here’s how you can do it at any age:
- Put in the time. Friendships require work; they’ll fizzle out if you neglect them. Make an effort to reach out to friends regularly. Even during busy times, a quick text or call can keep your relationship strong.
- Keep meeting new people. A steady support group is great, but friendships and social networks change with time. It’s important to regularly put yourself in a position to make new contacts who could turn into friends. Try volunteering, join a club or take classes at a local college or community center.
- Evaluate your friendships. Because people change and relationships shift, it’s okay to look at your current friendships critically. Maintain the ones that make you happy. Don’t feel bad about cutting out people who bring you down.
By sustaining and continually building social connections, you’ll enjoy better mental health. This, in turn, will improve your overall quality of life and physical health. Taking the time to socialize and connect with people is essential, so make your relationships a priority.
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