By Tanvi Gupta
Disclaimer: The intent of this article is not to encourage people to become extroverts. Social interaction is beneficial to everyone in varying degrees.
When was the last time you talked to someone? For fun, I mean. If it wasn’t sometime today, maybe you should now. Especially once you find out how beneficial social interaction is to your mental health:
1. Stress Reduction
Studies have found that social interaction helps reduce stress in a multitude of ways. First of all, social interaction affects hormones related to stress. One stress hormone is cortisol, which can increase due to feelings of loneliness. Social interaction can reduce such feelings, decreasing cortisol levels in turn. Moreover, caring for someone and being
cared for result in the release of stress-reducing hormones. It’s not all scientific though: having strong social relationships teaches you how to take better care of yourself because both people in the relationship want each other to be healthy. A healthy social life promotes healthy behaviors, which can help keep your stress levels in check.
2. Lower Risk of Anxiety and Depression
According to a 2022 report in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, a lack of social interaction and support can increase a person’s risk of developing mood dis
orders, such as depression. There is evidence that this applies to anxiety disorders as well. Counteracting feelings of isolation with social interaction can help safeguard you from developing these conditions. Meaningful social interaction can lead to the creation of support systems, people you can lean on during hard times.
3. Higher Self-Esteem
A report on The Link Between Self-Esteem and Social Relationships proved consistently that characteristics of social interaction, including relationships, support, and
acceptance, have a profound effect on a person’s self-esteem. Your friends and loved ones care about you, and they want you to feel good about yourself. Knowing that people enjoy being around you can be a big boost to your self-esteem. The author of the report also covers the idea of a “positive feedback loop.” Having positive relationships in the past/present can make people more likely to build more positive relationships in the future. This gives an extra boost to your self-esteem.
So, How Social is Social Enough?
After reading thus far, you may be wondering how much social interaction you need to reap all these benefits. Just like the disclaimer at the top says, that varies from person to person. A common example is the difference between introverts and extroverts. Introverts tend to need less social interaction than extroverts do. However, this does not mean that introverts have no need for social interaction at all. Still, if you want an exact number as a starting point, Dr. Kiffer G. Card, a behavioral epidemiologist at Simon Fraser University, generally advises socializing for about one to three hours every day. Call a friend, spend time with a family member, just talk to someone and have fun!