You don’t need to be reminded of your brain’s complexity. You try to get sleep at night and keep it engaged during the day with information and exercise. But there is one thing you might be overlooking: socializing.
There is plenty of research to show that social ties, particularly strong ones, play a big role in brain health. Socializing can help strengthen neural networks and stimulate attention and memory.
Even though chatting and laughing may seem rudimentary, your brain is actually working hard and the effects are likely to pay off.
Research suggests that people with strong social bonds are less likely to go through cognitive decline compared to people who spend the bulk of their time alone. One study found that loneliness can boost dementia risk by up to 40 percent.
Age – and the pandemic – can make it more difficult to stay connected. Things happen. You may lose friends or family members grow and become more consumed with their own lives.
But that doesn’t mean that you’re destined to be alone. Here are a few ways you can re-engage and build social connections.
Reconnect with old friends: One of the easiest ways to build fulfilling relationships is to get in touch with old friends. Even though you may have lost touch over the years, you were still friends at one point and can likely relate. At the very least you can reminisce over shared memories.
Focus on quality relationships: Weak or stressful relationships don’t seem to have the same benefits as fulfilling ones. Quality relationships that you truly enjoy are better than just knowing a lot of people or spending time with people simply because they are there. Nurture the healthy relationships and the ones you truly value.
Expand your accessibility: Using electronic devices and tools can help you stay connected with friends that live far away or that you’ve been unable to see during the pandemic. It might not be the same as face-to-face contact, but it is a social connection.
You can also think about getting involved in a group at your local library or community center, a course, volunteer work, or some other organization where you can be around people and have meaningful conversations.