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The Power of Social Experiences

Strategies for depression, anxiety, anger and stress

Having friends and participating in social experiences can not only influence your mood, but also provide a support network of those your can rely on.

When looking at improving your symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress or anger, one of the factors that can influence how you feel is the amount of human interaction.  Now, I’m not talking about being the life of the party or collecting friends like a politician.  What I’m referring to is the fact that staying isolated and alone has been shown to be a very significant cause of mental health issues.

One research study, published in the journal of Development and Psychopathology, followed children who had reported that they didn’t have any friends or peers that they engage with.  It was shown that by their teenage years, there was an extremely high likelihood of

 

them developing depression and other mental health problems.  The author noted that, “the long-term effects of being a withdrawn child are enduringly negative.  Over time, we found that withdrawn kids showed increasing levels of sadness and higher levels of depressive feelings.  Friendship promotes resilience and protects at-risk kids from internalizing problems such as feeling depressed and anxious.”  Being isolated in this manner can cause serious consequences that can negatively alter a person’s life over the long term.  They also found that over-time the problems tended to grow exponentially larger and build throughout a person’s adolescence and into adulthood.  This can then lead to problems in the workplace, inability to understand social norms and overall enjoyment of life.  By having just one friend you can significantly improve your anxiety, depression, anger or stress.

“But how?” is the next logical question.  Well, if you’ve read my previous articles and implemented those strategies you’ll find this a bit easier to accomplish.  The biggest thing is to get out of the house and try things.  Set small goals that are easily attained and build on them.  If you’ve taken on a hobby, you’ll be very likely to find people who share the same hobby.  There will be groups and gatherings of people with like-minded interests and are always open to getting new members.  If you’re a veteran, try attending an American Legion meeting.  If you’re into making beer or wine join a homebrew club.

Another great way to meet people is to attend a class.  This can either be in a more traditional learning environment such as a school or university, or can be in an informal setting such as a dance class or guitar lessons.  Even if you’re not making friends right off the bat, you are still socializing and engaging with other people.  It’s ok to join a class and not say anything right away.  Over time, you’ll find yourself becoming more comfortable with the idea of speaking to others and then building acquaintances based on this small talk.

The effects of all this are also cumulative.  The more you practice them and just try, the easier it becomes and the more proficient you’ll become in understanding how to talk to others.  You might even find a few moments to have fun and smile a little.

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2 comments

  1. SlayingDepression

    When we moved to a new city, I was a bit lonely even though I had some friends here. It was hard b/c I had to give up a job that I loved to come here and began the fun of searching for a new one (no luck just yet). It takes a toll on you.

    I was out for a run at the park and saw some people playing soccer and decided then to join a soccer league. I went home, found one, submitted my info and joined a team. I love it! We get together once a week. It is an over thirty team, so its all us old folks having fun, playing a sport that we love!

    I also play saxophone and clarinet, so I joined a local symphonic ban. It has been wonderful to be with people who are as passionately-dorky about things as you. I agree… getting connected helps with the feelings of loneliness and isolation.

    My advice…just do it. Don’t be scared to join a group where you know no one. What do you have to lose? Your feelings of loneliness and isolation, hopefully.

    Great advice!

    ~SD

  2. Georgina

    Yes this is very good advice that does work. One experience I’ll share is with the website meetup.com. On that site you can search for your city then by interests (anything from age range to food types to outdoor activities, spiritual or arty activities, film viewing, you name it) and you’ll find groups of people getting together to have fun and make new friends. It’s free to join and you can generally find inexpensive activities to join in with too if money is a concern. I’ve had some very positive experiences with it personally and if you don’t like the first meetup group you join there are usually lots more or you could even start one yourself.

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