More often than we will care to admit, many of us experience stress. That’s terrible because persistent stress can harm our mental and physical health.
If only we possessed a superpower that could help us control our stress. It may not be a superpower, but we can combat stress somehow. It is the power of socializing. A good way to relieve stress is to go outside of our minds and engage with the world around us.
This blog post attempts to explain the concept of stress, the stress-relieving power of socializing, and how hanging out with friends reduces stress.
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What is stress?
Stress occurs frequently. It’s the body’s evolutionary fight-or-flight response to feeling attacked or pressured. Not all stress is negative. It can spur us on to reach set goals and support us in juggling job, home, and family responsibilities.
However, excessive stress can be harmful. It can impact our relationships, behavior, mood, and physique. We may experience agitation, anxiety, and problems with self-esteem.
Stress can be short-lived, like being laid off or ending a relationship. It can also be more long-lasting, like stress caused by a demanding job, toxic workplace, bad relationships, family issues, etc.
Our bodies change as a result of chronic stress. Our blood pressure rises, our hearts beat more quickly, and stress hormones flood our brains.
Even low-level chronic stress can result in fatigue on all fronts: the body, the mind, and the heart.
It indicates an imbalance between what we give to the world and what we take for ourselves. But you don’t have to wait until things get bad to act or ask for help.
Social support, which has been proven to be extremely crucial for both our physical and mental health, is one factor that can help reduce stress.
Humans are sociable beings by nature. Socialization is a crucial aspect of stress management.
It includes fun things like joining a club, calling friends, and spending time with family. These kinds of activities reduce stress and, at the same time, foster feelings of safety, security, belonging, and enjoyment.
Our hormone balance is affected by social support. It increases oxytocin, which helps reduce anxiety and triggers soothing reactions in the parasympathetic nervous system.
Also, oxytocin boosts our need for social interaction and heightens our sense of bonding with those who mean a lot to us.
People who are stressed but have enough social support experience an increase in oxytocin, making them feel less anxious and more secure in their ability to handle stressful situations. And they are more attracted to others, thereby maintaining the beneficial cycle of social support.
The following techniques below help to enhance socialization. They include the following:
- Engage in conversation with relatives and friends. Call them, invite them over, throw a party, go to the gym or dine together, etc.
- Introduce yourself to your neighbors, and discuss with them and other acquaintances.
- Join organizations or classes that interest you, such as religious organizations, civic organizations, service organizations, hobby organizations, fitness organizations, etc.
- Make a profile on a dating site or briefly describe yourself on a free classified website like CraigsList.
Keep in mind that when it comes to interpersonal interactions, quality counts more than quantity. In other words, having two or three close confidants is more effective at successfully reducing stress than being surrounded by many individuals you don’t know well.
In light of this concept, building meaningful connections is crucial once you have formed them. And relationships need to be reciprocal to stay strong.
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How hanging out with friends reduce stress
Hanging out with friends can reduce your stress level in so many ways. Below are the reasons why you should enjoy the company of your friends.
The release of the hormone oxytocin is substantially associated with social support. This particular brain chemical has a calming impact, particularly when stressed.
And it comes out when you interact with other people. Oxytocin is released in greater amounts the closer you are to the people you are engaging with.
Reaching out to others can temporarily distract your attention from your problems, suffering, or stress levels. When we stay alone, we get lonely and worry about life challenges. This affects our moods, and we get burnt out trying to figure out everything ourselves.
But when we are in the midst of friends, we can forget about our challenges and live in the moment or discuss these issues with them. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem half solved.
Friendship is a mutual connection. When you spend time with others and are there for them in their difficult moments, you will be treated the same during your challenging moments.
This is because real friends look out for one another and can be the best emotional support one can have.
There’s a feeling that comes with being in the company of your friends. It gives that feeling that you are loved and cared for. This leads to a sense of belonging. Which makes one understand that they are not alone, even in difficult times
Hanging out with friends reduces stress. It is a mood changer. When you join a club or group, talk on the phone with a buddy, or spend time with relatives, it can lighten your mood. Their company is therapeutic, and you will feel better.
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Friends are people you are comfortable around. And spending time with them is good. You can crack jokes with one another and catch up on old memories.
It’s no joke that laughing is a fantastic way to relieve tension. A hearty laugh can lower your blood pressure and heart rate and regulate your stress response. The outcome? A positive, soothing feeling.
Depression affects a lot of people. But hanging out with friends can reduce stress, despair, and anxiety. Also, it can boost your self-esteem.
Healthy friendships reduce stress, which is good for the immune system and helps prevent mental and physical disorders.
Through inflammatory responses, your immune system defends your body against pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and physical harm. These physiologic reactions, which include a greater need for sleep and altered eating, can be caused by stress.
But socialization brings healing and immunological function to patients with various disorders.
You should establish and sustain relationships to gain strong social bonds for mental health. It takes two to tango. Here are some suggestions to help you maintain mutually beneficial relationships.
Even though it seems like a simple step, it’s easier to forget relationships when your days are filled with tasks and errands.
Try to always respond to missed calls or texts. Make time to hang out with your friends, even during busy periods. A good friend’s presence is an emotional balm on a busy day.
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b. Avoid applying too much pressure
Be understanding and sensitive to the needs of others. If friends have to change arrangements, don’t try to guilt-trip them or bombard them with too many texts or calls.
Ask your friends if they have the time and emotional capacity to listen before engaging in a lengthy discussion or venting your emotions.
One individual does not do all the work in a healthy relationship. Offer to visit a buddy if they keep traveling from out of town to see you. When you’re the only one doing everything, it can be exhausting.
Nobody is flawless. Even your close buddies can occasionally offend or misunderstand you. Recognize that we are all fallible and be ready to forgive.
It will be difficult to be relieved from stress in your social connection if you are worried about being seen as weak or emotional.
Sharing your problems, uncertainties, and fears with others will make you feel better about yourself and strengthen your relationships with them.
There is nothing that strengthens friendship bonds like appreciation. You can thank a friend for being there for you with a simple note or card. You don’t need to wait till their birthdays etc., to show them how grateful you are to have them in your life.
Don’t let everything revolve around you. Try genuinely caring about the other person rather than competing or comparing your own. When a buddy succeeds, rejoice for them.
Stress is reduced, and life is improved through social interaction. Make it a priority to be an active listener.
Put your phone away so you can be present, avoid being judgemental, and pay attention to your friend.
Hanging out with friends reduces stress. Although building a supportive network takes time and effort, it’s worth it for the support you can provide each other in difficult times.
We all face stressful situations, but socializing has fewer negative effects on our mental health and well-being. It helps build resilience as we learn to cope with and manage stress.
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