December 15, 2022
As you plan to be around those you love this holiday season, did you know that it could actually be good for your health? Sharing a nurturing connection with others activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which contrasts our sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system, thus fighting off stress.
Connecting with others who bring you joy can physically change how your body functions: improving your heart rate, health and overall longevity. How we connect is very important. While a phone call or text can be better than nothing at all, studies warn against the use of social media to stay connected. Social media comes with a variety of other potential stressors and can inhibit sleep, feed in to or even create anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. All of which create more stress and imbalance in your body.
Like all things, moderation is key, so while social media may keep you connected from people you otherwise wouldn’t talk to at all, be sure to schedule a holiday coffee date or mid-winter walk to catch up with a friend in person vs. only scrolling through online.
Over the last four weeks we have discussed a variety of ways to manage stress that we have – including journaling and practice of gratitude, the power of breathing, mindfulness practice, and now social connectedness. For some individuals working through other biopsychosocial causes to their stress can be quite helpful. Having a good counselor to work through more specific and individualized needs, as well as exploration of your body’s biochemistry could be something of further investigation and ways to address stress in your life.