“We never outlive our need or capacity to be useful.”

—Richard Watts

How important do you think love and connection are to your vitality? Imagine if your doctor gave you a prescription for good health as simple as, “Surround yourself with people you love. Make new friendships. Keep old friendships. Be sure to make time for family and those you love.”

Research shows that it may actually be that simple, in fact. Relationships and your level of connectivity have a direct correlation to your longevity. Relationships are paramount to a well-lived life. People who are active in their community make new friends more easily and feel valued. Richard Watts, a retired minister, once said these words of truth, “We never outlive our need or capacity to be useful.” Warm and loving relationships are vital to our physical and mental wellbeing. We become happier and live longer by loving and being loved. Humans are social creatures and we benefit from positive interaction with people of all ages.

Loneliness is Bad for Your Health

Diet and exercise may be good for your health to a certain extent. Loneliness, on the other hand, can take you down to depths of depression and illness. Without social interaction, the body suffers from chronic inflammation, which spirals a person down further. Inflammation can make a person feel poorly, resulting in more reasons for withdrawal from social circumstances. Loneliness, therefore, compromises health and creates further isolation from the benefits of community.

Stronger relationships can build our immune system, making us less likely to suffer from colds, flu or chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe that personal connection is the antidote to the damaging effect of loneliness. Whether you are the loving caregiver or the recipient of loving care, your body is able to reap the benefits of the release of hormones that counteract stress and inflammation.

Social Activity Creates Wellbeing

Just like other social creatures, we are not meant to live alone. We eat healthier and stay more active when we surround ourselves with other people. People tend to take better care of themselves when they have activities to look forward to. When our friends are active, our desire to be with them helps us to have increased activity, too. Healthy habits are easier to implement when we have a connection to a group. A sense of purpose and future helps us to keep a positive and bright outlook. Having a calendar with events to look forward to and a strong network of loved ones protects brain and body.

Social Interaction Benefits the Brain, Too

We can protect our brains by keeping close relationships, too. Research continues to affirm that social interaction is influential to brain health. Talking with others keeps us thinking clearly. Conversations keep us sharp. We have to think more when we interact with others. It challenges us to remember details and learn new things.

Amen Clinics, founded by Dr. Daniel Amen, a noted author, psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist, teach people the importance of improving relationships in order to have good brain health (https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/7-secrets-improving-relationships/). Quality of relationships matter. People with happy marriages live longer, happier lives, but even if you aren’t married, or have lost your partner, you can proactively create close connections to others by initiating phone calls and regular in-person interactions.