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THRIVE

Who you know is good for you

We know that eating healthy and exercising are good for you, but did you know our social connections are also important to our physical health?

Social connections are the relationships we have with others either individually or in groups. Strong social ties are associated with lower blood pressure rates, a better immune system, and lower levels of stress. They help prevent chronic disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. People with strong social connections are more likely to live longer than people with weak social connections.

In contrast, a lack of social connectedness—i.e. social isolation and loneliness—has been shown to weaken people's immune system and impairs sleep and mental and physical well-being. In fact, research suggests that low social connections can be worse for our health than obesity, smoking or high blood pressure.

Here are some tips to help develop social connections:

  1. Foster existing relationships: Call a friend, invite your neighbors over for coffee or plan a get-together with family. Plan for one hour each week where you will reach out to loved ones.
  2. Volunteer: Volunteer at a favorite nonprofit or school. Volunteering helps create a sense of connection and purpose. Not only is it an opportunity to get to know people with similar interests, offering support to others is associated with even better health benefits than receiving it.
  3. Encourage community connections: Support and participate in opportunities for your neighbors to connect with one another. Help plan a National Night Out event or a neighborhood block party. Volunteer to clean up a local park so that it's safer for kids to play in the area.
  4. Create opportunities for new relationships: Join a group such as a running club, book club, or sewing circle and meet people through your existing hobbies. Or, start small by introducing yourself to new people in the office or at community events. Introduce yourself, ask questions, and tell stories to start connecting with others!

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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