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Social Relationships for You Health

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The end of the year holidays are a time friends and family gather together to celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of a new year. These special social gatherings and our social relations all year add immensely to our quality of life, and research has shown that they also tend to add years to our lives. Brigham Young University in Utah recently reviewed 148 studies involving more than 300,000 people. These studies linked stronger social relationships with a 50% increased chance of survival over the course of the studies. The effect was consistent across a number of factors, such as age, sex,and health status.

It is not clear how social relations affect health. One theory is that social support helps us handle stress by providing emotional resources to help deal with adverse events and illness. Family and friends may also encourage us to take better care of ourselves. Being part of a social network often gives us meaningful roles that boost self-esteem and purpose of life, which in turn can improve health.

This time of year can be very difficult for individuals who do not have a close family or social network. We can improve our own health and the health of our community by reaching out and being friendly to those around us.