6 Critical Strategies for Creating Meaningful Social Connections to Help You Live Longer

Creating Meaningful Social Connections

In a digital age, face-to-face communication is critical to help in creating meaningful social connections and may be more important than ever before. In fact, your health may depend on it.

It’s time to put down your phone, and go out to meet a friend or loved one for coffee; it just may help you live longer. There is a growing amount of evidence confirming that the trappings of wealth, fame and achievement do not ensure a lifetime of happiness.

Many recent studies are showing on how face-to-face communication happens to be not only essential for human happiness but also could be the missing link to some of the most powerful, long-term health benefits.

Creating Meaningful Social Connections

Creating Meaningful Social Connections

Face-to-face contact releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters, and like a vaccine, they protect you now in the present, and well into the future.  So simply making eye contact with somebody, shaking hands, giving somebody a high-five is enough to release oxytocin, which increases your level of trust and it lowers your cortisol levels (now you know our secret as to why we love to give our clients high fives in the clinic). It lowers your stress. And dopamine is generated, which gives us a little high and it kills pain. It’s like a naturally produced morphine…This face-to-face contact provides stunning benefits, yet now almost a quarter of the population says they have no one to talk to.

Unfortunately, social isolation has become “the public health risk of our time.” Yet, we need a circle to lean on, and Facebook is definitely not the same as face-to-face. You may be active on social media sites and establishing authentic connections — but the challenge is to bring these connections off the screen and in to “real life.”

Building bonds with others takes time and effort. And as we get older, forming new relationships can feel like hard work. However, do not discount the everyday seemingly small exchanges with others, such as brief social interactions at work, when you go for a walk or even at the grocery store.  All of these exchanges can contribute to your health and happiness, but of course, it is the profound ties of friendship that have the most enduring benefits.

Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking, alcoholism.”

Those are some strong words, to which we should all pay close attention to. There is a universal truth that affects us all, regardless of our own personal inclinations and interests, and that is the need for a strong social support system.

Who do you spend the most time with?

Family, friends, and co-workers all combine as a constant in our lives and so, whether we realize it or not, they affect everything we do.  Just as we form expectations of the people we see every day, so do they of us.

As the findings shared above show, good relationships can mean the difference between good and poor health.  So, here are 6 Strategies for you to Building Meaningful Social Connections.

Find people with similar interests

You’re more inclined to spend time with people who enjoy the same things you do, so seek them out. That could mean volunteering in a local sports league or training for a specific event together, but you have to make the effort to find them and get involved.

If you look at your life right now and realize you don’t have many close connections, you may need to open yourself up to forming bonds with people, and actively seek out and build a support system for yourself. It’s crucial both for self-development and for your health.

Finding like-minded people is important for cultivating quality relationships. And in our case of physical fitness, we often see that the shared goals of improving health and our bodies’ performance brings people closer together. This is the primary reason as to why we offer fitness classes several times a week.  Often a common statement among our members is that it is very much a “gym family.”

Changing and transforming ourselves requires motivation, good instruction, and consistent, hard work. And experiencing all of these things with regular training partners seems to automatically bring a closeness. Working together towards shared goals does that.  More importantly they bring accountability to your commitment and provide support to help you achieve your health goals.

Whether it’s training for a marathon, or simply trying to build a stronger, more capable body, we form a bond with those sharing in our experiences.

So, look at what’s important to you. Find ways to build meaningful connections with others working toward those same goals. You’ll find that the process and experience are far more enjoyable, and you’ll form bonds that are hard to mimic in other ways.

Learn to Navigate Negative Relationships

Negativity, especially when it comes from the people closest to you, drains you and siphons away energy. This energy could be used toward your goals. We obviously need our relationships, and pessimism and naysaying may not wholly deter you from improving, but it makes it that much harder to keep on track and do what you need to do.

As hard as it is to work on improving yourself, it’s also hard for the people around you to acclimate to the “new you.”  However, there’s a big difference between a family member or close friend who is initially resistant to positive changes within you.  And those relationships that are negative in the long term. Less-than-supportive people may continue to be passive-aggressive (or aggressive-aggressive!) for a long while.  You’ll know if you need to let go of some of these people relatively quickly.

The time and effort to deal with them will sap your energy and you’ll feel worn out. Follow your instincts and remove yourself from those “energy vampires.”

Create a social bucket list

Consider this your “I’ve been meaning to do” list. For example, have you always wanted to take up ballroom dancing or join a cycling club? Or maybe you have been thinking about reaching out to an old friend whom you have lost touch with over the years. Live larger and strive to live life with no regrets.

Be mindful

The benefits of living mindfully, with more awareness, are boundless. Mindfulness enables you to more easily identify your strengths and weaknesses.  It also allows you to get a better handle on stress. Then you can become more aware or sensitive to the needs and emotions of others.

Step up

Armed with the knowledge that healthy social integration is what the world needs now — carry the torch. Do you know someone who could benefit from more social interaction? Reach out and try to bring people together. Start a walking group, a monthly movie night or other recurring social event.  You can even join our Pilates, yoga or fitness classes which we hold every week (more information below).

Be neighborly

Little things can have an immense impact. Help someone with the groceries; open the door for others; visit an elderly neighbor; give someone a compliment; smile more often; make eye contact a habit. Not only will you be making someone else’s day, you will feel great about your efforts as well.  It’s a “win-win”.

In no uncertain terms that building your village — building it and sustaining it — is a matter of life and death.  So, call that friend, and get out for a coffee!

You Can’t Do It Alone – and Why Should You?

 We can’t underestimate the value of social support in every aspect of our lives. Especially when it comes to personal transformation. It can be hard enough to get ourselves motivated for change.  This addition of stress from a negative environment can stop us right in our tracks.

The path to good health and success has to involve more than just ourselves.

Align yourself with good people as much as possible.  This will minimize your interaction with negative nellies.  And open yourself to help and support.

So, there are 6 critical strategies for creating meaningful social connections to help you live longer and if you’re not part of the LEVEL4 family yet, click below to join and receive almost weekly health tips to help you sat informed and make the best decisions for your health. It’s free, and we’re always here to lend support when you need it. Plus, you can also get an opportunity to speak with one of our specialists about any of our health and wellness programs which we hold on a weekly basis at LEVEL4 – to help you take the next step in your health journey.

 

Dedicated to your health,

Dr. Oscar 🙂

Announcement

We are now offering fitness classes every Friday at 9:30 am to help our clients achieve the maximum out of life with more energy every single day so they can live the life they want…and deserve.  Whether that’s fitting into favorite pair of jeans again, feeling more confident in your body, improving strength and mobility, wanting to be more active or just wanting to be the envy of your friends our fitness classes are here to help… no matter what level of fitness or age you are.  So, if you’re looking for a customized fitness program with clinical precision to fit your needs and help you achieve true longevity in your life, then our fitness classes are perfect for you.

Come Try Our Fitness Class on Fridays

Oscar Andalon, DPT, STC, MTC, CSCS, CF-L1, MWOD, USAW, FMS/SFMA

Performance Physical Therapist at Level4 Physio-Wellness-Performance
Dr. Oscar Andalon is a leading and trusted sports physical therapist, strength coach, performance enhancement specialist, educator, author, and Co-Founder of Level4 Physio-Wellness-Performance – an Encinitas integrated wellness center for people in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond, who value their health and want to restore or maximize their active and healthy lifestyle.

For more than 16 years, thousands of athletes, fitness enthusiasts and active people of all ages, levels and sports including Olympic medalists, professional, collegiate and recreational athletes have consulted Oscar; looking for answers to concerning questions about a fast end to their pain and best ways to improving performance.

Prior to living in Carlsbad, CA, he worked as Clinic Director for a 20,000 sq.ft. sports physical therapy and performance center. He became known as the “athlete whisperer” in the Pacific Northwest by becoming the leading sports performance enhancement physical therapist and CrossFit injury rehab and performance specialist. He also was known as a consultant to the Nike WHQ in Portland, OR.

Oscar’s passion for excelling in sports earned him the opportunity to compete in soccer both at the Division 1 collegiate level at University of San Francisco and at the professional level playing for the California Jaguars; giving him the understanding and experience of knowing what it takes to perform and excel at the highest level of competition. Oscar is an orthopedic and sports performance specialist with a true passion in helping athletes and fitness fanatics of all ages and divisions, serving as an educator to bridge the gap between rehab and strength and conditioning.
Oscar Andalon, DPT, STC, MTC, CSCS, CF-L1, MWOD, USAW, FMS/SFMA

Latest posts by Oscar Andalon, DPT, STC, MTC, CSCS, CF-L1, MWOD, USAW, FMS/SFMA (see all)

You Might Also Like...

Tell Us What You Think About This Post...