The Benefits of Socializing: A Case for Being a Social Butterfly
The Benefits of Socializing: I am an introvert, one whose
energy is completely drained after being in a social setting. I am also
terrified of social gatherings. Melissa and I consider a party to consist of us
and one other couple!
She usually has to coax me
out of my cave with, you guessed it, deli meat or the promise of buying some
after the event.
My childhood friend and his
wife flew into Florida and wanted to meet us for lunch. After I said yes, he
pulled the usual stunt and said there would be six of us – combination record
scratch and scream ensued.
To make things more
terrifying, it was his father and mother! At first there was anxiety, then
anger, followed by more anxiety. These feelings ran deep into my early
I’ve always been intimidated
by his father who usually made it a point to bust our chops every time my
friend and I took the canoe out to go fishing.
Talk about anticipatory anxiety. I was practicing different fight scenarios in my head during the day before and at night – what I would say to him, the quick comebacks, etc. It was painful.
The day arrived and I was on
edge to say the least. As we were leaving, I was curt with Melissa (I
We arrived at the condo and
everyone was there except my friend’s father! Talk about a slow and painful
torture – more anxiety followed.
He finally showed up and I
could not believe how awesome and laid back he had become. We spent the day on
their boat touring Fort Myers and docking at a seaside restaurant for lunch.
Many laughs were had as I sat next to him at the restaurant.
We then went back to the
condo and spent some time at the pool. Yes, OCD Ted even dunked his feet in the
Someone suggested we all have
dinner and Melissa couldn’t believe it when I agreed to attend.
The day was just awesome. It
felt like a vacation even though we currently live in Florida. It was wonderful
spending time with my friend and his party, of which Melissa and I truly felt a
part (not apart!).
Melissa and I felt refreshed
and a proud sense of accomplishment having faced our discomfort. The opposite
happened – we had fun.
I present the case for
socializing and encourage you to do the following:
- Accept and face your social anxiety the next time you
have the opportunity. It will pass.
- Create your own social event. Don’t wait for it to
come to you.
- Focus on the moment and engage your guests. You don’t
have to wait for them to say something.
- Make eye contact when you speak to them. This was a
big one for me.
- Focus on the sense of accomplishment – your personal
victory and how you will feel after “surviving” such an event. Hint, it feels
- Rinse (especially my feet!) and repeat. Be sure to
attend another social event sooner rather than later. It will get easier.
I hope you will keep these
points in mind. They will help you grow as a human being and the experience
will enrich your life.
Now, off I go to the deli
The Benefits of Socializing: Ideas to Boost Your Health and Wellbeing
~parts adapted via Psychologytoday.com
Socializing can provide a number of benefits to your physical and mental health. Did you know that connecting with friends may also boost your brain health and lower your risk of dementia? If you need reasons to help justify spending extra time lingering over coffee with a friend, or setting aside time in your busy schedule to connect with family, read on.
1. You may live longer. People with more social support tend to live longer than those who are more isolated, and this is true even after accounting for your overall level of health.
2. You will likely enjoy better physical health. Social engagement is associated with a stronger immune system, especially for older adults. This means that you are better able to fight off colds, the flu, and even some types of cancer.
3. You will likely enjoy better mental health. Interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression. Research has shown that one sure way of improving your mood is to work on building social connections.
4. You may even lower your risk of dementia. More recently, there has been accumulating evidence that socializing is good for your brain health. People who connect with others generally perform better on tests of memory and other cognitive skills. And, in the long run, people with active social lives are less likely to develop dementia than those who are more socially isolated.
Convinced of the benefits of socializing? If so, you may be looking for ways to boost your social engagement.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Use Skype or Facetime to catch up with family and friends from a distance.
- Walk through your neighborhood and make a point of stopping to say hello to people you meet.
- Babysit your grandkids or help them with homework.
- Sign up for a class at your local recreation center, library, or university.
- Attend religious services at your church, synagogue, or temple.
- Sing in a choir or play music in a group.
- Volunteer at your favorite charity organization.
- Visit a museum with a friend and chat about what you see.
- Participate in a neighborhood or community group.
- Play a group sport like lawn bowling, golf, or croquet.
- Have a friend or family member over for coffee or tea.
- Play cards or board games with others.
- Exercise with a friend by walking, swimming, or going to the gym together.
You may notice that many of these activities also provide cognitive engagement or physical exercise – or even both. In previous postings, we shared research about the additional benefits to brain health that come along with cognitive and physical activities. So, it’s a great idea to choose social activities that also physically and cognitively engaging.
If you have MCI, you may find that changes in your memory make it more difficult to learn new activities, names, and routines. These can also make it more difficult for you to comfortably interact with others. If so, it may help to connect with people through activities that are familiar to you. It may also be easier to focus on the here and now, by chatting about the things that you are doing together, rather than the past.
Regardless of how you go about connecting with others, remember that it should be in a way that is enjoyable to you, so that you will be sure to do it often.
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