Train Your Brain in August: By Being Social

All month we will explore the brain. Specifically, we’ll walk you through the methods for training your brain to be stronger, smarter, and faster!

Friends Walking Together

Your brain is so well connected, and you should be too! In fact, interacting with one another is like food for the brain. This may be why regular contact with others decreases the risk of early onset of dementia.

A study at the University of Chicago found that loneliness has doubled in the U.S. since the 1980s, affecting up to 60 million Americans. All these feelings of isolation can increase a person’s chances of premature death by 14 percent and early death in the elderly by 45 percent. This may be because loneliness actually suppresses your immune system, boosts inflammation and is associated with heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and even dementia, cancer and fatigue.

The neuropsychological impact of isolation in the general population is clear, but how does this apply to you?

Isolation in the workplace is costly. Lack of social support can lead to mental sluggishness that impairs productivity, stifles creativity, and hinders decision-making.  Several papers have documented a link between loneliness and lowered organizational commitment among hotel workers, school principals, medical workers, and others. A study conducted at five companies in China showed a relationship between loneliness and lowered creativity.

In this equation, subtracting social interaction in humans causes all the illness companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to prevent.

On the other side of the equation, data show that adding social interaction doesn’t just boost your mood, it basically feeds our brains. People who connect with others perform better on tests of memory and other cognitive skills. And, in the long run, people with active social lives are less likely to develop age related cognitive decline. In the workplace, positive social relationships strengthen employee retention and productivity.

Listen, social contact with others does not even have to be a deep conversation. Just being there with them and doing things together is enough to get the cognitive benefits. So, go have a coffee. Pick up the phone.

Your brain will thank you.

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