Socialization: Something We Desire Or Something we need?
Whether we’re extroverts or introverts, we all want some social connection in our lives. Doesn’t matter if your friend circle is small or big - as long as we have one, we feel grounded and less lonely.
After all, man is a social animal. Sharing moments that build trust can bring people closer - by it when drinking coffee at the crack of dawn on a rooftop or even by bunking a lecture together to catch a film!
Think about it, you too must have such experiences with your closest companions, and looking back at such moments, you’ll realize these are the ones that got you close in the first place!
Not just friendships, familial ties are also equally important in our lives. A healthy relationship with our family members gives us a sense of security and belonging.
All such relationships are a huge part of our lives. They can greatly influence our well-being, both mental and physical.
It’s no surprise that there is an impact on our immunity as well. Let’s have a look at how.
How big is your circle?
We have some good news for the social butterflies out there. There is strong evidence that larger networks have stronger immunity, as suggested by studies on susceptibility to viral infections.
This means widening your friend circle can reduce your chances of getting a cold!
Having a go-to person is important
When at parties, it’s possible some of us like to bury our faces in our phones rather than socialize.
Some people like to sit at the back of the room when there’s a lot of chaos and mingling going on around them.
For such people, building a large friend circle can be problematic. This is fine, as long as they have at least one person, a confidante to place their trust in.
Having one such person can be predictive of better health.
Tying the knot tight
A life partner can be the strongest and closest relationship one has in his lifetime. That’s what it means probably: partner for life.
Many studies conclude that married couples have better health than unmarried/divorced individuals. Specifically talking about immunity, studies have suggested that married women have a better immune response to infections than divorcees.
However, the quality of marriage influences all these conclusions. Simply tying the knot cannot suffice - having a happy marriage is important for reaping the immune benefits.
Lending an ear
Social support in any form - be it emotional, companionship, self-esteem, or even financial, is important when it concerns immune health. Having perceived support can lead to healthier quantities of Natural Killer Cells (no, we’re not talking about assassins here!). There is also evidence that the social support provided by volunteers can increase the survival time of terminally ill patients. After all, having an emotional pillar of support in your final days is natural and important.
We can see now why we tend to need socialization. It’s not just to keep ourselves busy with company, but also because our body understands its benefits. This is why socializing is not just a desire of the heart but a need of the hour.
- Graham JE, et al. Chapter 36 - Close relationships and immunity. Available from: http://pni.osumc.edu/KG%20Publications%20(pdf)/174.pdf.
- Umberson D, et al. Social relationships and health: a flashpoint for health policy. J Health Soc Behav. 2010;51 Suppl(Suppl): S54-66.