God built us for relationships.
What's more, meaningful relationships are good for your general sense of purpose, health and wellbeing.
Okay, that's not really a news flash. But what is going on inside your brain?
Fostering connections with others has three overarching brain benefits.
1) Reduces cognitive decline as you age.
Move over, Alzheimer's and dementia. Check out this article for some scientific results: Loneliness during pandemic can lead to memory loss.
2) Floods your brain with feel-good neurotransmitters
Human touch, a simple hug, handshake, or touch on the shoulder goes a long way in the brain department. The feel-good brain chemicals dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin boost feelings of relaxation and contentment and reduce the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. And it doesn't have to be another human.
Having a dog or cat has been proven to decrease depression and loneliness. According to the article "What having a dog does to your brain and body," when you're with your dog, "Your heart rate comes down, your blood pressure comes down, your heart rate variability which is the ability of the heart to duck and dive and respond to stress improves. You release oxytocin, the opioids, adrenaline, and serotonin. So, all of these great reward chemicals and anti-stress chemicals can be released in both you and the pet."
3) Eases depression and anxiety
Feeling emotionally connected with others offers us the benefit of trust, empathy, and compassion. We have a role to play in relationships where we can refresh others and in so doing be refreshed ourselves. We need someone to call in our time of need, someone with whom we can share our struggles and complaints. Having a coach or trusted friend who holds us accountable, offers sage advice, and helps us gain clarity of thought allows us to see our predicaments from a fresh perspective, thus lightening our emotional load.
What can you do today to become better connected socially? Can you call a friend, arrange a date, have extra snuggle time with your loved one, or volunteer at nursing homes (when allowed)?
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