Did you know that positive social connection and finding purpose in life are good for the heart? One large meta-analysis of over 300,000 individuals followed for an average of 7 years found that people with healthy and supportive relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival compared to those with insufficient social relationships. This degree of effect is comparable to well-established risk factors of mortality such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
In addition, finding purpose in life is associated with longevity. Published in JAMA Network Open in 2019, the Health and Retirement Study of nearly 7000 US adults over age 50 found that those who scored highest on a scale that measured life purpose were less likely to die during the four-year study period. This was especially true concerning death from heart, circulatory and blood conditions.
Our mental state directly impacts physiological processes in the body. One of the main stressors people face these days is loneliness, which has been found to increase cortisol and inflammation. Taking time to connect with others can activate more beneficial processes, such as the release of oxytocin, which lowers cortisol and reduces pain.
An important fact about connection is that is unrelated to the number of friends you have on social media or in real life. The benefits of connection are actually linked to your subjective sense of connection. If you feel connected to others, then you reap the health benefits.
Tips to boost social connection and finding purpose in life:
Here at NTPHP, our purpose is to provide the best possible care of our patients, and we strive to form a personal connection with each of our patients.
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In honor of American Heart Month and Valentine's Day, let’s all take care of our hearts.