As the holidays approach, social gatherings become more frequent as we celebrate with family, friends, and work colleagues. While these occurrences may be viewed with some trepidation, socializing overall - particularly with people whose company we enjoy - is beneficial to various aspects of our health.
The Health Benefits of Socializing
Social connections provide a solid support system, strengthening your mental health. Research shows that social interaction can help reduce symptoms of depression, and talking to friends or loved ones during difficult times can reduce stress and help you manage emotional challenges. In addition, spending time with friends and family often results in increased happiness and life satisfaction.
Socializing also has positive cognitive effects. Engaging in conversations, debates, and shared activities with others can stimulate your brain and enhance brain function, improving cognitive abilities. In addition, it exposes you to diverse perspectives and experiences, making you more resilient and adaptable in different situations.
There are some general socializing practices that everyone can all use, regardless of whether you're a social butterfly or a wallflower:
Join Groups and Communities: Participating in clubs, teams, or community groups related to your interests can be a great way to meet like-minded people and establish deeper connections. Meetup, for example, has numerous social groups of all types that you can find in your area.
Plan Social Events: If you’re feeling lonely, take the initiative to plan gatherings with friends and loved ones
Have Virtual Calls: While in-person interaction is invaluable, video calls can facilitate socializing, especially with friends or family who may be far away
Once you’re actually in a social situation, conversations are best when there’s an exchange between two people, and one person doesn’t dominate the discussion. Trying to understand the perspectives and feelings of others can help to foster meaningful connections, so it’s best to actively listen to the person you're conversing with, showing genuine interest in what they're saying and asking follow-up questions to deepen the conversation.
In addition, your attitude can determine the course and success of your social interactions. Approaching social situations with an open mind and a friendly demeanor makes it easier for others to connect with you.
Keep in mind, too, that building strong relationships takes time, so don't be discouraged if the connections don’t occur immediately. Give your relationships the opportunity to develop, and your patience will be rewarded!