There is a saying, which states that ‘ no man is an island ‘. It is possibly one of the most concise descriptions of human nature. The expression is a description of the social nature of human beings. Social interactions play a crucial role in our day-to-day lives. Interacting with others and forming relationships can have a positive effect on your mental health. It would be best if you did not underestimate these benefits.
Studies examining the effects of social interaction have been carried out extensively and have yielded results, which support the need for robust social interaction. A 2019 study published in the PLOS ONE journal went as far as to classify the types of ‘self’ one uses to quantify their wellbeing. There are two types, namely the ‘qualified self’ versus the ‘quantified self’.
The quantified self draws its information from health data often collected through technological means like heart rate monitors, smartwatches and others. The study concluded that despite all this data, which is now available, it still does not paint a complete picture of your wellbeing status. Now compare the quantified self to the qualified self. In this instance, lifestyle, how much enjoyment you get, and most importantly, your social interactions are used to measure your wellness.
If social interaction and time with friends are so important for mental health, how is this achieved?
Through Lower levels of stress
In this day and age, where everything seems to be moving twice as fast, and the demands on us seem to be increasing daily, it is very easy to get stressed. Without an outlet for the stress, it can begin to affect your mental well being, inducing anxiety, depression and other ill effects. If left unaddressed for too long, excess amounts of stress can manifest through physical ailments and impaired physical health.
Spending time with your friends can lower your stress levels as you take the time to take part in fun activities, which improve your outlook.
Increasing Your Sense of Belonging
When you are part of a group of friends, the feeling is akin to being part of a tribe, of belonging to something. This sense can be a powerful booster for your mental health as feelings of loneliness and exclusion are driven away.
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Improving Your Moods
When you are alone for extended periods, you may find that you tend to wallow. If something happens to or around you, it may seem much worse to you as there is no support system around you, helping you absorb and find different perspectives.
Having friends available who can sit with you and are able to have conversations on varying subjects, even those that are not necessarily uplifting or light-hearted, can make a big difference in how external influences affect you. You can take part in uplifting activities or have an outlet for your concerns and frustrations available, which may go a long way toward improving your moods.
Boosting Your Self Confidence
If ever there was a chance that a person could walk around with a personal cheerleading squad following them wherever they went, most people would jump at the opportunity to have one. Since it is not a feasible idea, there is an equally enticing alternative. Cheerleading is what friends do best, and sharing what is happening in your life creates stronger bonds. If you want to celebrate good news, you can call your friends for a party or a night out. If you feel unsure of yourself, your friends can provide valuable positive affirmations, which can go a long way towards making you more self-assured and able to hold your head high.