It’s Social September which means it’s time to release the inner butterfly and start talking, socialising and relating to others. The aim of this month is to disconnect, in order to reconnect. A scary new addition to the i-phone is the report you get at the end of each month to tell you how much screen time you have had on average, per day. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: lower the amount of time spent on your phone or tablet. Use the extra time to have a conversation or even play a game of charades with someone!

Isn’t it a great feeling when you have a coherent, intriguing and entertaining interaction with someone? “Studies show that social relationships have short- and long-term effects on health, for better and for worse, and that these effects emerge in childhood and cascade throughout life to foster a cumulative advantage or disadvantage in health” (Montez & Umberson, 2011) 

Let’s investigate the effects on health in people who are less socially active or have less social ties

  • Increased risk of mortality
  • Higher rate of development and progression of cardiovascular disease
  • Recurrent heart attacks
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Delayed cancer recovery
  • Slower wound healing
  • Increased level of inflammatory biomarkers
  • Impaired immune function

Sounds pretty scary hey? The reason behind the increased risk of poor health outcomes comes down to the link between the quality & quantity of social ties and health behaviours. Behaviours promoting better health outcomes include better diet, increased levels of exercise, increased adherence to a health promoting regime. Behaviours linked with poor health can be increased levels of smoking, poor diet, drug and alcohol abuse – no surprises here.

People with a lower number of social ties are thought to be more likely to engage in behaviours related to poor health, while the opposite goes for those with a higher number of social ties. 

Loneliness is the number 1 thing most feared by humans – it is feared even more than death. Then why is it that when we are in a room with other people, we are drawn to what we are holding in our hands? Pictures tell 1000 words however the photographs below tell much more than that. Let’s work on putting down the phone to have a conversation with someone this September – it’s good for our health after all!

REFERENCES

Montez, J. K., Umberson, D. (2011). ‘Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy’.J Health Soc Behav. 2010; 51(Suppl): S54–S66.

“Dainius”. (2016). Removed: Photographer Removes Phones From His Photos To Show How Terribly Addicted We’ve Become. https://www.boredpanda.com/portraits-holding-devices-removed-eric-pickersgill/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic