If you have followed me for any length of time you know I am an avid cold water immersion enthusiast! I have a great spot to do it, I have been at it for years, and I have a solid group of friends who meet up to do it regularly with me. This group of individuals have become my closest friends, the people I know I can and do, share anything with. I know my children can ring any one of them at any time if there is anything, and I mean anything they need. This is something I am very grateful for. Cultivating relationships with friends and building a supportive community around oneself is essential for both mental and physical health.
Here are some reasons why these connections are impactful:
Social support and stress reduction: Friends and a strong community provide emotional support during challenging times. Sharing experiences, feelings, and concerns can help reduce stress and promote a sense of belonging, comfort, and understanding. Knowing your crew is following along and available to help if needed helps lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone that, when chronically elevated, can negatively impact physical health.
Increased happiness and well-being: Positive social interactions, such as laughter, sharing activities, and celebrating achievements, release feel-good hormones like oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals contribute to happiness and overall well-being, enhancing mental health.
Enhanced self-esteem and confidence: Being part of a community where people support and appreciate one another can boost self-esteem and self-worth. Positive feedback and encouragement from friends can help individuals feel valued and more confident in their abilities and decisions.
Reduced risk of loneliness and depression: Loneliness can lead to sadness and isolation, increasing the risk of depression. Having a network of friends and a supportive community can counteract loneliness, providing a buffer against mental health issues.
Better coping mechanisms: When faced with life's challenges, having friends and a community to lean on can provide different perspectives, advice, and problem-solving strategies. This collective support can help individuals develop better-coping mechanisms, making it easier to handle stressors and adversity.
Physical health benefits: Social connections have been linked to improved physical health outcomes. People with strong social ties tend to have lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and better immune function. Engaging in social activities and spending time with friends can also encourage healthy habits like regular exercise and balanced nutrition.
Brain health and cognitive benefits: Social interactions keep the brain active and engaged. Engaging in conversations, games, and activities with friends can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline, especially in older adults.
Longer lifespan: Studies have shown that individuals with strong social connections tend to live longer than those with limited social interactions. Having a supportive community around oneself can provide a sense of purpose, belonging, and fulfilment, all of which contribute to a longer, healthier life.
In summary, maintaining positive relationships with friends and building a community around oneself profoundly affects mental and physical health. The support, companionship, and sense of belonging that come with these connections can lead to reduced stress, increased happiness, improved self-esteem, and better overall well-being. Additionally, the physical health benefits and cognitive stimulation from social interactions contribute to a longer and more fulfilling life.
Would you like to read an article about cold immersion? Click the link below!
Kristen Moss NC
Buteyko Instructor & Lifestyle Coach
Mother of two