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Do Meaningful Social Connections Matter?


Ah, Valentine's day. Not a day that I tend to celebrate specifically. I prefer the spontaneity of flowers, a special handwritten note or even some chocolate from my loved one(s) on any random day. Why do we have to designate a day to publicly demonstrate that you love someone? Frankly, frequent social connections including with your romantic partner; but also with family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues are so good for us!


One landmark study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. (Science, 29 July 1988, Vol 241, Issue 4865). WOW. So why do meaningful social connections matter? They will make you live longer, impact your physical health, reduce stress, make you feel better about your life and yourself, and improve your habits.


By nature, we as human beings are inherently social. In terms of your health, it’s not about the number of social connections that you have but rather about the quality or how meaningful those connections are. If you want to reap the benefits of a happy and healthy life, it’s important to learn to cultivate your relationships to make them deeper and more satisfying, so that when you are faced with challenges (stress, growth, medical issues, change), you can turn to these people for support. The strongest social connections provide you with:

· Appraisal - honest feedback and constructive criticism

· Companionship - make you feel more socially accepted

· Emotional support - people who nurture and motivate you to keep moving forward no matter how hard life gets

· Useful information - information that helps you solve problems (accountants, lawyers, health coaches, etc.

· Tangible support - resources, favors – for when you find yourself in a tight spot and you need someone to bail you out.


It’s difficult to get all of that from a single person. Who do you go to when you are in a “funk” for a pick me up? Who do you admire and talk to when you want to change your eating or exercise habits? Who do you call when you are totally stressed out from work? Who do you turn to when someone has “hurt” you? After any of those conversations, how much better do you feel? This is why establishing connections with different kinds of people is important. Try to belong to different groups, to volunteer in different ways. Perhaps you can get involved with a church, the neighborhood, a running group, a book club, a volunteer organization, etc.


When I coach my clients through weight loss, changing habits, dealing with stress it’s difficult to do that without considering the support or social connections they have. How are your social connections? Is this something you need to focus time towards? It’s not easy sometimes but as a coach, I can help you navigate that. eity of


flowers, a special handwritten note or even some chocolate from my loved one(s) on any random day. Why do we have to designate a day to publicly demonstrate that you love someone? Frankly, frequent social connections including with your romantic partner; but also with family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues are so good for us!


One landmark study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. (Science, 29 July 1988, Vol 241, Issue 4865). WOW. So why do meaningful social connections matter? They will make you live longer, impact your physical health, reduce stress, make you feel better about your life and yourself, and improve your habits.


By nature, we as human beings are inherently social. In terms of your health, it’s not about the number of social connections that you have but rather about the quality or how meaningful those connections are. If you want to reap the benefits of a happy and healthy life, it’s important to learn to cultivate your relationships to make them deeper and more satisfying, so that when you are faced with challenges (stress, growth, medical issues, change), you can turn to these people for support. The strongest social connections provide you with:

· Appraisal - honest feedback and constructive criticism

· Companionship - make you feel more socially accepted

· Emotional support - people who nurture and motivate you to keep moving forward no matter how hard life gets

· Useful information - information that helps you solve problems (accountants, lawyers, health coaches, etc.

· Tangible support - resources, favors – for when you find yourself in a tight spot and you need someone to bail you out.


It’s difficult to get all of that from a single person. Who do you go to when you are in a “funk” for a pick me up? Who do you admire and talk to when you want to change your eating or exercise habits? Who do you call when you are totally stressed out from work? Who do you turn to when someone has “hurt” you? After any of those conversations, how much better do you feel? This is why establishing connections with different kinds of people is important. Try to belong to different groups, to volunteer in different ways. Perhaps you can get involved with a church, the neighborhood, a running group, a book club, a volunteer organization, etc.


When I coach my clients through weight loss, changing habits, dealing with stress it’s difficult to do that without considering the support or social connections they have. How are your social connections? Is this something you need to focus time towards? It’s not easy sometimes but as a coach, I can help you navigate that.


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