by Lou Ann Donovan
We all enjoy getting together with friends and attending family gatherings from time to time. Such occasions give us an opportunity to catch up, share ideas, and even lend support to each other. Social connections like these also influence our health and longevity the same as our diet, sleep, and exercise. Research has identified that by simply connecting with others triggers a caring behavior which helps relieve stress and strengthens the immune system.
Social isolation or chronic loneliness is a major risk factor to our health similar to smoking and obesity. Being alone can contribute to increased inflammation and even shorten our lifespan. When we focus on the positives our confidence grows. We are then more likely to reach out to others, connect on a deeper level, and make healthier choices for ourselves in the long term.
When living with a Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs), staying connected to friends and family can be a challenge sometimes due to fatigue and other disease-related symptoms. So here are some ideas to help you stay connected while improving your health, quality of life, and longevity.
A strong community that goes beyond your immediate family can have a dramatic impact on your health and longevity. For example, The Blue Zones regions of the world seem to all have in common strong family units, small groups of friends, and a supportive community structure all while living a healthier, happier, and longer life. This Blue Zones idea originated from farmer’s who met regularly to discuss crop planting.
Online Support Communities
Cancer survivors can use this same Blue Zones idea by building your own strong community with online support groups. There are many benefits to online groups which include; get support anytime, anywhere, learn more about MPNs, increase your quality of life, and socialize with fellow cancer warriors. Here is a list of MPN Resources from PV Reporter which includes resources and programs for MPN patients, MPN resource and educational websites, and Facebook online support groups.
People who have a purpose in life tend to be more connected to their communities. They also tend to form deeper friendships, which research has shown to have a positive effect on their health even down to the cellular level. Tending to your relationships is an important part of self-care and to living a healthier life. Furthermore, having a deeper sense of well-being has been linked with decreased inflammation.
Studies have shown that our pets can offer us loyalty and unconditional love too. Adding a pet to your family can bring more joy into your life. Check out your local animal shelters for adoption events to find the newest addition to your family.
Friendships teach us that having someone close who you can turn to is emotionally satisfying plus has the power to extend our lives. So, take the opportunity from time to time to increase your social connections. Focus on quality over quantity with those who are close to you. Connect with those in your community and introduce yourself to your neighbors. By increasing your social connections, you are also helping others increase theirs. Simply put, social connections matter and can have a positive impact on both your health and your longevity. The people who we surround ourselves with can help us get through both the good days and the bad ones.
Sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb. MPN Cancer Connection has complete independence in content creation.