When you’re trying to stay healthy, then proper nutrition, plenty of exercise and lots of rest are essential, but so are your social connections. Connecting with others helps to improve your psychological and physical health. Good social relationships can increase your chances of living longer and strengthens your immune system. When you do fall ill, having others around you can help to hasten your recovery. People who have strong social connections are less likely to have anxiety and depression. Also, they are more likely to have higher levels of self-esteem, are more trusting and cooperative and more empathetic towards others.
Unfortunately, even though the benefits of being socially connected are clear, many people have fewer close confidantes than ever before. In 1985 a study showed that Americans felt they had three close friends they could share personal problems with, a figure that dropped to just one in 2004. A quarter of Americans feel they have no-one to confide in. Studies show that the numbers of people who feel increasingly lonely or socially isolated is rising. There’s nothing wrong with nurturing yourself and being independent but take the time to nurture your friendships too, because social connections are a fundamental human need.