The Importance Of The Real Life Social Network
You’ve probably heard about Blue Zones, those areas in the world where it’s not unusual but in fact very common for individuals to reach 100 years of age. Because people in these parts of the world live such long healthy lives, researchers have spent a great deal of time studying their lifestyle. While diet and exercise greatly influence the longevity of these groups, the evidence to support the benefits of social interaction and connection on health continues to grow.
Moai - A Lifelong Social Support Group
Okinawa is a city in Japan where many live well beyond the average 70-72 years of age. In fact, this region has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. There are of course many contributing factors to Okinawans long term health, and their Moai is certainly one of them. In Okinawa children are born into a social support group with whom they travel through life with. The Moai is a strong lifelong network that provides social, emotional and financial support in times of need. The Moai plays an important role throughout the lifespan, well into old age. With this close group of friends, the elderly feel valued and that their lives have meaning and purpose, something senior citizens in many Western countries sadly don’t experience.
This social interaction and connection is a common thread in other regions of the world where healthy ageing and longevity are common. Villages in Greece, Italy and Costa Rica have large social networks and get together regularly, often to share a meal or have a fiesta!
How much do we socialise?
Evidence shows the happiest people in the world spend FIVE to SIX hours a day socialising face to face with people they like and have meaningful conversations with! Comparatively, Americans socialise for just 40 minutes a day. Finding time to socialise when working, studying or raising children can be challenging, and the increasingly popular social networking websites like Facebook make it so easy to connect with friends and family ‘online’. But when it comes to overall health and wellbeing, face to face interaction and connection with people you enjoy spending time with should be prioritised alongside diet, exercise, sleep and mental health.
If you’re active on one or more of the various forms of social media, take a few minutes to assess how much you spend virtually socialising.
If you recognise, or someone close to you has pointed out that you are engaging with these platforms excessively, set some guidelines for yourself. For example:
- Check your social media platform/s once a day
- Take a social media break, even just for 1 week! Notice how this affects your life
- Deactivate one of your social media accounts. It’s easy to get caught up on the multiple platforms - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr...the list goes on.
- Many of us spend hours every day before a screen so when you get home, try to have some screen free time. Talk to your family or housemates or call a friend for a catch up!
Don't want to miss anything?
Get the latest recipes, workouts, success stories, tips and more right in your inbox.