Your mind is a muscle and the more you exercise it, the better it performs.
Well, truth be told, your brain is 60% fat, but it needs as much if not more exercise than the actual muscles that power your body. And, what’s the best way to pump those neurons to keep your reasoning strength ripped and always ready to go? Communication!
Talk isn’t cheap—it’s high value for good mental health
Talk is the active and deliberate expression of thoughts, ideas, and critical conjuring within our minds. It’s our reasoning, our reaction, and our response to events and ideas presented to us. As we interact with others (hopefully on a daily basis), talk helps us clarify our thoughts, try out notions while interacting with others, and accept input from others to further refine our own thinking.
“Communication is key. It’s key to social engagement. It’s key to our lives.”
– Nora Wang, RN
Mental health? Are they coming to take me away?
“Mental health,” is not a term that necessarily implies decline; in fact, the inclusion of “health” in that phrase indicates vigor and vibrancy. Nothing to fear in that, right?
Our mental health is a barometer of our overall well-being—how we feel on any given day, our motivation at the start and throughout the day, and the ability for our thoughts to formulate and flourish. As Nurse Nora previously noted, “communication is key.” Like exercising that muscle, communication keeps those thoughts active, keeps our synapses firing, and even keeps the convolutions on our cortex actively forming, hopefully throughout the full duration of our lives. That would be a sign of good mental health, all brought about by activity: physical, mental, communicative.
Being connected is more important to well-being than you might think.
OK, serious business here. Communication among humans is not only necessary for ongoing development of brain function and capacity, but also critical for positive emotional well-being (the less noticeable side of “mental health”).
Whenever we’re kept from maintaining regular communication with others, we can develop negative feelings about ourselves and about others, often with detrimental results. Consider these documented effects caused by lack of communication and social interaction:
- Reduced interaction can lead to lower levels of the interleukin-6 (IL-6) protein, possibly resulting in onset and severity of Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.1
- Curtailed communication can lead to a dampened mood, possibly resulting in emotional states of isolation, depression and anxiety.2
- Social isolation can trigger cognitive decline (remember, exercising those communication muscles) which can lead to the onset of dementia.3
Those are just a few potential effects of a lack of regular and ongoing communication with others. By understanding those, we can understand the value of even daily chit-chat; it keeps us feeling engaged and gives us a sense of belonging and personal value, among others.
Keep connected—it’s easier than you may think!
Life throws both opportunities and obstacles our way. That’s OK. Changing events and situations keep us on our toes—they keep us thinking—and that keeps us connected.
So, when the world changes, at large or just within our own personal situation, how might we connect with others to adapt? Well, here are a few simple ways:
- Ensure you have the means to connect, whether through phone calls, video chats, and in-person visits (if that’s an option for you). There’s also email and letter writing. Yes, the post office still delivers letters.
- Schedule regular chats with others. Many folks set aside daily time to connect with others by whichever means best suits them. Weekly and even monthly chats work, too. The important part is to at least schedule the time to ensure you can get connected with one another.
- Let others know how to reach you at a moment’s notice. If something exciting just happened that someone wants to share with you, let them know how to best reach you and a best time to do so in any sort of ad hoc way.
Sure, keeping connected does take some effort but it’s well worth it. The value you place on connection with others not only demonstrates your value for them but also your value for yourself. When you determine to keep connected, you’re able to take your own mental well-being into account, doing what you can to keep yourself healthy—mentally, physically and spiritually.
“Communication leads to confidence. Confidence enables independence. Independence assures us that we’re living our best lives, every day.”
– Robert Rae, CEO, ClearCaptions
1Source: National Institute on Aging
2Source: Psychology Today
3Source: One Rush