Before smartphones, every photo you took with your film camera was printed; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Who could have imagined that 21st-century life would mean investing time and energy into curating our lives for public consumption? Taking dozens of pictures of ourselves, our activities, even our food, but only sharing those that we deem perfect? Social media is fun, but it’s not an accurate representation of the real world. We were built to interact with one another physically and emotionally, and our health and well-being depend on it.
I know that there are many challenges at this moment in history as we navigate social distancing and health concerns during the pandemic, but real time interaction can still be possible. Take advantage of technology such a Zoom and Google Meets, or host a social distanced backyard visit with one or two good friends spaced out appropriately.
Although diet and exercise are vital to wellness and longevity, real-life friendships (outside of social media) also play a large role in our wellbeing. Face-to face social support allows us to feel heard, needed, and valued. In fact, one of the secrets of the oldest and happiest people on earth is having strong social ties. Almost all centenarians (those living to 100 years and beyond) interviewed say they are part of some sort of community group and enjoy socializing on a regular basis with others who have common interests. Simply put, people with strong social connections live longer, happier, healthier lives than those who are more isolated. It makes sense. Our community allows us to be a part of the big picture and gives us something to look forward to.
I encourage you to call a friend this week and set a time to catch up in real life rather than texting. whether you choose a video confrence call or a backyard visit, face-to-face interaction is essential for spiritual fulfillment and personal growth.
***A review of studies involving the impact of social relationships on health: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review showed that across 148 different studies, there was a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with strong social relationships. The researchers concluded that: “The influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.”