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Social Connection and Recreation

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

“Connect with Others” Here is a good read from Mental Health America:

Finding other people to relate to and doing things that bring you enjoyment are great ways to improve your mood and overall mental health.

Loneliness is bad for health

  • Loneliness can cause the same amount of damage to your lifespan as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is more dangerous to health than obesity. 1

  • Loneliness is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure in older people. 2

  • Poor social supports make it harder to recover from mental illnesses, while a strong social support system improves overall outcomes and ability to bounce back from stress. 3

  • Women with breast cancer who have weak support systems before treatment have more pain and symptoms of depression over time. 4

Social interaction and recreation are all around good for you

  • People with strong social relationships are 50% more likely to live longer.5

  • People who do things in nature have better perceptions of their own emotional well-being. 6

  • Taking a vacation can help you to feel happier and less stressed for a while. Even short vacations help!7

  • One study showed that people who participated in leisure activities like reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments, and dancing were less likely to develop dementia.8


1 2018 Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index. Retrieved from

2 Hawkley LC, Thisted RA, Masi CM & Cacioppo JT. (2010). Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults. Psychology and Aging. 25(1):132-141.

3 Ozbay, F., Johnson, D. C., Dimoulas, E., Morgan III, C. A., Charney, D., & Southwick, S. (2007). Social support and resilience to stress: from neurobiology to clinical practice. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 4(5):35.

4 Hughes, Spencer, et al. (2014). Social support predicts inflammation, pain, and depressive symptoms: longitudinal relationships among breast cancer survivors. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 42:38-44

5 Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Med 7(7): e1000316.

6 Korpela K, Tyrväinen L. (2014). Analyzing the mediators between nature-based outdoor recreation and emotional well-being. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 37: 1-7.

7 Chen, C.-C., & Petrick, J. F. (2013). Health and Wellness Benefits of Travel Experiences: A Literature Review. Journal of Travel Research. 52(6):709–719.

8 Verghese J, Lipton RB, et al. (2003). Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly. The New England Journal of Medicine. 348:2508-2516.

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