How social contact can keep you healthy
There’s nothing quite like a catch up with loved ones to leave you feeling happy and energised so it’s no surprise that social interaction actually plays a very important role in achieving better brain health.
Does social interaction benefit brain health?
Research suggests that forming and maintaining relationships enhances brain health. One of the biggest health concerns of our time is dementia, a degenerative brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. Dementia impacts millions of people globally, with around 50 million people living with dementia worldwide. However, research has shed light on how socialising can help to protect your brain health and reduce the risk of dementia.
In this blog post, we’ll look at how socialising can help keep your brain healthy and can lower your risk of dementia. From understanding the benefits of social connection to the impact of loneliness, and exploring strategies for staying connected with others, read on to learn more about the power of socialisation in protecting brain health and fighting dementia risk.
Brain-Healthy Benefits of Socialising
Socialising has many benefits, including reducing stress, improving brain health and reducing the risk of dementia. Stress can harm the brain, and socialising can help to reduce stress levels. Socialising also helps to keep the brain active and can help to delay the onset of dementia.
How Loneliness Affects Brain Health
The brain is a complex and fascinating organ, and scientists are still learning how it works. One area of research that has received a lot of attention in recent years is the effect of loneliness on brain health.
There is now a body of evidence to suggest that loneliness can harm brain health and may even be a risk factor for dementia. A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that lonely people were more likely to experience age-related decline in brain function than those who were not lonely.
Furthermore, The Lancet found that social isolation was associated with an increased risk of dementia. Another study found that lonely people are 2.1 times more likely than those who are not lonely to develop dementia. The lancet authors suggested that social isolation may lead to cognitive decline by affecting how the brain processes information.
What can you do to protect your brain health if you feel lonely? First, it’s essential to understand that loneliness isn’t entirely harmful to your health. However, when loneliness becomes chronic or severe, it can adversely affect your physical and mental health.
If you’re feeling lonely, there are things you can do to ease your feelings of isolation and improve your overall well-being; read on to see our top tips on how to stay socially active.
How to Stay Socially Active
There are many benefits to staying socially active, including protection against cognitive decline and dementia. While some social activities may be more beneficial than others, socialising can positively affect brain health. Here are some tips for staying socially active:
1. Connect with friends and loved ones, either in person or online:
Whether you connect online or in person, your friends and family will be happy to hear from you!
2. Join a club or organisation:
Joining a club or organisation is a great way to meet new people and stay socially active. There are clubs and organisations for all interests, so you’re sure to find one perfect.
2. Combine two healthy activities into one:
Try to arrange a catch-up in tandem with exercise, whether it’s a walk around the block or a fitness class — both tick the crucial brain health boxes of social interaction and physical activity. It’s fun too!
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and meet new people simultaneously. There are opportunities to volunteer for all kinds of organisations, so you’re sure to find one that’s a good fit for you.
5. Take a class:
There is an abundant amount of online and offline group courses available. Try brainstorming what you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet, and research what's available. Look for online or local classes in your city; you'll be surprised!
Learn more about what it really means to age well.
What does it mean to age well?
Ageing is inevitable but our quality of life as we get older is something very much within our control. It’s only natural for our bodies to slow down in later years, but the good news is that there are several health and lifestyle factors we can all address to ensure that we’re still able to lead the life we want as we age.