What originally started as a campaign by Hallmark to celebrate your friends, quickly became an internet holiday that has helped communities put together activities for everyone within it. We're, of course, talking about International Day of Friendship. By 1958, the World Friendship Crusade, an international civil organization that campaigns to foster a culture of peace through friendship, had drummed up the idea of a day to celebrate you and all of your friends. However, it wasn't until many years later, in 2011, that International Day of Friendship was finally given its full recognition by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Mind, Body, and Social
Regardless of its history or when you can actually say it officially began, having friends and remaining social will always be just one more aspect to having a healthy mind and body. We obviously know the importance of maintaining a well-balanced diet and continuing to exercise throughout your life. But it's also important to note, socializing and maintaining relationships is the third point to that health triangle.
The term social capital is used to refer to someone's friend group and level of support they receive from that group. An unfortunate truth is that as we get older our social capital can dwindle a bit. However, there have been numerous studies that show a higher social capital can lead to a healthier living. That's why it's so important to remain social as we age. There are so many benefits such as:
Boosted mental health: Consistent contact with
friends can improve moods and help keep your emotional health up! This means
reduced stress, which lowers the risk of depression.
● Improved physical health: Consistent socialization can lower your blood pressure and give a little boost to your immune system. Not to mention, social relationships can sometimes naturally lead to more physical activity with you and your friends.
● Healthier eating habits: Older adults can be vulnerable to malnutrition, but studies show that healthier options, as well as larger portions are chosen when dining with friends or family.
● Provided sense of belonging: Social activities not only help you stay connected to friends and family, but they can give you a feeling of belonging. Additionally, these relationships provide a sense of purpose to your days.
● Increased longevity: Some studies have shown that those who have remained social throughout their life live a longer, happier life. This is due to the fact that friends can help you deal with the stresses of life. Or potentially suggest a healthier lifestyle for you. This adds up to a healthier lifestyle.
Ways to Become More Social
If you don't consider yourself a social individual or if you struggle in social situations, that's okay! It only takes the occasional social outing to reap the above physical and mental health benefits. Not to mention, you can choose social activities that are most comfortable for you. There's no need to try out for a basketball league if you never played the sport; or attend a trivia night if you've never successfully answered a question on Jeopardy! However, hopefully some of the suggestions below will help you or at least get the wheels turning in order to do more social activities. Take a look below:
Setup Daily, Weekly, Or Monthly Video Chats with Family and Friends - If social distancing or any other reason may prevent you from seeing
the ones you love in person, set up daily video chats to talk with them. Sure,
it might not be as great as face-to-face contact. But it's the next best thing!
● Dine Together - Humans are social creatures. We aren't meant to eat alone! So why not have lunch or dinner dates with family and friends? Meals are the perfect time for lively and enriching conversation or a great reason to find yourself laughing more than you're feeling serious.
● Try Volunteering - Do you want to make a difference in your community WHILE interacting with others? Volunteering is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Not only will you find like-minded individuals, but you'll receive a wonderful boost of belonging and purpose when you volunteer.
● Join a Club or Organization - Whether you're into reading, games, sports, cooking or knitting, there's most likely a club or organization for it! As we mentioned previously, it's your social life! You get to decide what to do. We're just here to encourage you to join up and do it.
This year for International Day of Friendship, whether you already have a great group of friends or you're looking to expand it, we urge you to get in touch with them or find something new. Your social life is really the forgotten third point to your health triangle. We always strive to keep the mind and body sharp, but if you can achieve a healthy friend group, you can do both at the same time!