The positive effect of a well-functioning social network on a person's health is evident, while ongoing loneliness and social isolation can result in illness.
Social contacts can improve the immune system and protect you from depression and other mental illnesses as well as their physical consequences. Spending time with friends improves the way you deal with stress which in turn strengthens your heart and your circulatory system. Therefore it is a good idea to cultivate and tend to your social network, and thereby improving your prospects of a healthy and first and foremost happy life.
But what exactly is a social network and how can you do to create such a network?
Maybe you are already part of a well-functioning social network and are wondering: what can I do to maintain it? These questions lie in the focus of this module...
Every person needs social contacts. This may be the weekly phone call with your sister, a shopping tour with a friend or the regular meeting with your skat buddies.
But the „small talk“ with your neighbours and the chat with the vendor at the bakery are also a vital part.
All the social contacts around you make up your social network!
Social networks come in different sizes, some may also have holes or be unstable and some people may not have the fortune of having a social network. Social networks need to be nursed and fostered, and one thing is for sure, the foundation for a sound social network is social participation.
The essence of social participation is receiving something from others, but also about giving something to society.
There are a number of ways to social participation. It could be about meeting friends and family or talking to a neighbor. It could also be to be a member of an organization, whether it is in politics, voluntary work, or an organization for people with the same hobby as you have.
As we grow older, arenas for social participation disappear and new arenas for social participation emerge. Becoming a pensioner could deprive you of previous important social arenas, such as the work place or networking with others of your profession. Therefore it is important to maintain other social arenas where you participate, such as participation in organizations or cultural activities. Maybe you would like to support charity or volunteer at a non-profit organisation?
Entering into retirement can also be seen as a chance to establish new ties and to build new social networks. Have you ever been to a gym? If not, perhaps you could give a senior group a shot? Is there a senior citizen center in your neighborhood? Do the local authorities or health care services have special social events for seniors? Or maybe you could you pick up the phone and call an old friend you have not seen for years?