Socialization is one of the most effective yet oft-forgotten methods of relieving stress. Remember that we are not meant to be solitary individuals. We need not only one or two but layers of connections to be able to feel whole and connected.
These positive connections with the people we love and with those who share the same hobbies, interests and likes as we do helps greatly in counteracting the stress we are subject to in our lives. The effects of stress are cumulative and the emotional load can become heavier and heavier until it seems unbearable. Positive interaction with others provides recognition, often at a subconscious level, that we have not been singled out for a life of pain and stress. Realizing that others, in fact almost everyone, has their own challenges and must work to overcome them, can provide balance to our own thinking.
Socializing and sharing with others can provide an antidote to the stress we unwittingly put on ourselves when we indulge in negative patterns of thinking and behavior. These social activities affect us at a hormonal level, which means the effects are not superficial but positively benefit our emotions and our physical states.
Socialization Boosts Oxytocin Hormones
Joining social support groups is an effective way of balancing our hormones. People who regularly engage in social support will most likely find themselves having increased levels of oxytocin in their system. This hormone helps decrease anxiety levels and facilitates the activation of calming responses by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. The hormone oxytocin also stimulates a person to seek out further social contact and improves the sense of attachment to loved ones and other individuals who are important to them. Boosting oxytocin levels will help improve confidence in a person’s ability to cope and cause them to become more drawn to other individuals.
This will then perpetuate the beneficial cycle of constantly wanting to engage in social support and other activities that promote socialization. An individual who is experiencing stress and feelings of disassociation from others needs to make the effort to engage in socialization to receive an oxytocin boost. This can be the start of a positive self-reinforcing loop which will be beneficial for alleviating feelings of anxiety and mitigating the symptoms of chronic stress.
Socialization as Mood Elevator
Regular encounters with other people have been proven as an effective mood elevator and those who have a robust social life will have many health benefits from it. If in your daily activities you meet someone familiar, you may not notice it right away but your body will experience an instant rush of uplifted emotions. These positive feelings you experience when meeting a friend or an acquaintance in public places will make you feel more fixed in the society where you belong. Having a short conversation with someone who shares the same hobbies, likes or even outlook can help you forget your negative thoughts, at least for a while. A brief encounter with a friend requires little time and effort but has long-lasting benefits.
Socializing Helps You Direct Your Energy Outward
When you spend more time with other people it is inevitable that you will direct your energy outward as you focus on reaching out to those people around you. In turn, you spend less time focusing your energy inward and ruminating on negative thoughts that add to your stress load. In addition, taking time to help and reach out to others is investing in your own social support, as you are more likely to rely on these people in the future if you find yourself needing their presence.
When you spend more time socializing you will realize that life has meaning and purpose. This appreciation is enough to elevate your mood and decrease your stress levels. Some people always set aside time for socializing because they are very aware that being in groups of people is so important to their health and well-being. It may seem a bold declaration but socialization can rival the effectiveness of medications in providing stress relief.
Do keep in mind that your goal of socializing is to help to keep your stress within beneficial levels. Every person is different and not all people will be harmonious to your particular lifestyle, needs or outlook. Be aware of relationships or situations that drain your energy, as not all contacts will result in beneficial relationships. However, those that do will provide balance and happiness to your life and in doing so, greatly help reduce symptoms of stress.