The October issue of the journal, “What The Doctors Don’t Tell You”, listed the six things we can do to extend our lifespan. In the middle of the list we have the obvious habits such as exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Toward the bottom of the list they mention taking blood pressure medicine, and as we creep to the top we have cutting back on smoking to improve our life by 52 percent and refraining from alcohol to live longer by 32 percent. However, the number 1 most effective lifestyle habit that extends our lifespan is nurturing our social wellness, with a whopping 62 percent improvement.
Social wellness is a key component of our holistic wellness. Without it, our physical, emotional and mental health suffers. It seems like the idealistic medicine - spend time with your friends, meet new people and join a club to extend your life; but for women with mood disorders and substance abuse issues, social interaction can be a nightmare. Social anxiety, depression, PTSD, or addictions often cause women to isolate from loved ones and neglect positive relationships. They may feel being around others and putting on a “happy face” is too difficult, or maybe they are embarrassed and want to avoid the painful stigma associated with mental illness.
The importance of social interaction was kept hidden for years, up until people noticed that children in orphanages who had little to no social contact were dying suddenly with no link to age or health risks. This prompted changes in the manner of which children in childcare were treated and nurtured, and it began a series of scientific studies proving a connection to good social health and a long life. A number of years later, Bringham Young University explored numerous research studies that involved the observance of 308,849 people that were watched for 7.5 years. The results were overwhelming. Researchers were blown away by the significant role social health, spending time with loved ones and interacting with others, played in expanding our lifespan.
It is important that women who struggle with mental health issues, addiction or substance abuse, feel supported by those around them. Brookhaven Retreat offers an environment that is conducive to nurturing social wellness. We are a close knit, female-only community that encourages women to build close friendships and relate to those who are struggling with similar issues. The bonds that are formed during treatment often last a lifetime; and with this strong support system, women build self-confidence, avoid isolation and may ultimately live a longer and healthier life.