When we think of wellness at Acacia Creek, we focus on the four pillars of successful aging; physical, intellectual, spiritual and social. Each area is equally important to maintain overall wellness, but social wellness is something that can be easily overlooked. In fact, there is a growing amount of research indicating that “the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water and shelter”, writes UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman.
Here are some reasons from Masterpiece Living why strong social connections are so important.
Quality of Life: Our social networks are our main outlet to express our joys and sorrows of life. Our peers laugh and cry with us and make our lives more enjoyable.
Feelings of Belonging: All humans have an inherent desire to be part of something larger; a club, a family, a community, etc. Social engagement helps us understand where we fit in the world.
Longevity: A groundbreaking longitudinal study (Alameda County) has documented that social interactions are a marker of longevity, and those lacking social ties tend to have shorter lives.
Mental Function: Being in social situations and relationships require our brains to stay sharp, engage in dynamic conversational exchanges, remember dates with friends, etc.
Immune Function: Studies tell us having a support system helps us process the stresses of life, allowing our bodies to release less harmful stress hormones that can suppress our immune system and eventually contribute to strokes, heart disease, and cancer. This is called “connection protection.”
Confidence: Friends and family, and other forms of social support can give people the motivation and encouragement they need to experience and learn new things. With each success, we develop more confidence to keep doing new and challenging things with our lives.
At Acacia Creek, we have great access to creating social connections. Taking the time to have a compassionate interaction can make all the difference when someone is having a difficult time. Conversely, interactions lacking compassion can have the opposite effect. Professor Lieberman writes, “The importance of social connection is so strong that when we are rejected or experience other social pain, our brains hurt in the same way they do when we feel physical pain. Social and physical pain are more similar than we imagine.”
When our feelings are hurt, we sometimes respond by lashing out, affecting those around us. This never makes us feel better, because we get what we give. I have found that when I’m upset about something, if I can put my upset aside and have a nice interaction with someone, unrelated to what I’m upset about, it will change my whole mood. But if I unload my negative feelings to someone else, it grows and makes me feel worse, because I’ve made someone else feel bad.
Do your best to be compassionate and give good cheer. When you do, remember it improves your wellness and the wellness of others. It also makes our community a better place for everyone.
Acacia Creek Retirement Community inspires residents to live an active, meaningful life. Our mission as a senior community is to enrich the independence, well-being, and security of our residents through exceptional services and care based on Masonic values.
To learn more about Acacia Creek or our senior housing opportunities, contact us at www.acaciacreek.org/contact