The Importance of Companionship
Matthew Liberman, UCLA professor and a founder of social cognitive neuroscience, says that “the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water, and shelter.” He suggests that that being socially connected is essential to our very survival. Liberman believes that there are predispositions in our genes that crave connection and steer an individual to interact with social media platforms to get our fix. We need to recognize the importance he importance of companionship.
In a digital world, it can be hard to understand that social networks do not best promote or further relationships. While they keep you communicating with friends and family near and far, they lack a physical connectedness you experience with a face-to-face conversation. And science is proving this to be vital to a person’s overall human growth and success.
The Science of Connection
Companionship is a vital connection with someone that provokes a sense of closeness; it’s a basic human need. And the more good relationships people have, the happier and healthier they tend to be. Companionship encourages mental stimulation and increases a person’s sense of purpose. Humans need each other; study after study has proven this.
The brain craves connection because lifeforms are inherently social beings. Further, Studies show, from mice to humans, we are shaped by our social relationships, and we suffer both mentally and physically when those bonds are severed or have been threatened.
It has been shown that companion-style living for seniors can benefit their overall health by reducing social isolation habits, keeping them engaged with their community, and helping them connect to new friends. Companion animals have been shown to reduce loneliness in their owners, as well as bouts of depression.
Helps With Development
Our first experience with relationships is oftentimes with family members. But since we all grow and move on to have our own independent lives, it’s important to acknowledge that family relationships are not the only ones you will need in your lifetime.
Within companionship, we learn who we are and who we want to become. By listening and accepting feedback from other people, we develop into who we need to be. Relationships that you have with peers, friends, and colleagues influence you and your development. And the skills that you learn from making and maintaining relationships can affect your health and well-being into adulthood.
Prevents Physical Illness
Being socially connected improves our overall physical well-being. One study shows that genes can be by impacted by social connection. And the more connected we are, the faster we can recover from a disease. A study by Science News reported that connectedness helps strengthen our immune system. And a lack of social connection is a larger stress on your health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure.
Connectedness is not only important within relationships but also within oneself. Spiritual patient care is becoming more of a concern in hospitals and doctors offices around the nation.
Those who are socially — and spiritually — connected report higher levels of self-esteem and trust in others. And those who lack companionship tend to suffer more.
Prevents Mental Illness
Stress is a significant cause of mental illness. So when we isolate ourselves and don’t listen to how we are feeling, we become disconnected from ourselves and those around us. This disconnection can make stress more difficult to manage.
Social isolation can either exacerbate or create problems with anxiety, activating your body’s natural fight-or-flight reactions. In turn, it has negative effects on the immune system. Studies have shown that those who lack companionship are more likely to fall victim to mental and physical illnesses.
Friends and companions are important for more than just their physical presence in your life. They help your body resist illness and keep your mind sharp. And they help combat loneliness. A spirit surrounded by companions is a happy one; science agrees that it’s even essential for its survival.
About the Author
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.