I came across this tweet from UBC Public Affairs last week:
“New UBC research explains why you think everyone else has more friends than you do”
It piqued my interest because the theme for this month’s newsletter is social health. In preparation, our team has been reflecting on what social health looks like and how it takes shape within our relationships and connections with others.
This new research reflects a widespread belief that people think their peers are more socially connected and have more friends. However, the reality reveals this to be untrue. Essentially, we are convincing ourselves that everyone else is getting invited to the party but us, and this is resulting in negative consequences on our self-esteem and mental health.
The word social can be intimidating, particularly for those who identify as introverts, but we can still reap the benefits of social connections even when we keep our circle small.
Top five reasons to stay connected this fall:
- Improve your thinking. We are more likely to think in positive and empowering ways when we have meaningful connections with others.
- Protect yourself. Social support and associated boosts in self-esteem are protective factors against life’s stressors.
- Get well and live longer. Being emotionally supported by others leads to improvements in physical health and longevity. Allowing yourself to seek this support during stressful times can improve a person’s overall wellbeing.
- Boost self-esteem. Social support impacts self-esteem. Higher self-esteem is associated with lower levels of anxiety, depression and distress.
- Find more satisfaction. Self-esteem is also associated with higher levels of overall life satisfaction and happiness.
Check out this TED Talk about the power of human connection:
More than ever, I’m convinced that FOMO (the fear of missing out), is a real thing — I have a major case of it most of the time — but I am comforted in the fact that research has now confirmed that it is mostly in my own head.
This month I invite you to reflect on, and appreciate, the friendships and social opportunities that you have instead of those that you don’t. Whether your social circles are large or small, we can all benefit from continuing to connect with others.
If you are interested in practical ways to create and deepen connections with others, check out the following links:
- The Chopra Centre’s 10 Ways to Deepen Your Connections With Others
- TED Talk’s How to connect with others
- Entrepreneur.com’s How to Immediately Connect with Anyone
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
Kawachi, Ichiro and Lisa Berkman. (2001) Social Ties and Mental Health. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 78:458-467.
Steinhardt, Mary and Christyn Dolbier. (2008) Evaluation of a Resilience Intervention to Enhance Coping Strategies and Protective Factors and Decrease Symptomatology. Journal of American College Health, 56: 445-453.
Thoits, Peggy. (2011). Mechanisms Linking Social tied and Support to Physical and Mental Health. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 52:145-161.