5 Ways to Connect Socially Each Month

5 Ways to Connect Socially Each Month

2 min read

Here are five ways to create more social engagement in your life. Every month, schedule one activity that falls under each of these categories. You will consistently have five events to look forward to and a concrete way to remain social, which is an important pillar of longevity.

1. Volunteer

  • Schedule one day per month to volunteer. Doing so increases social engagement and supports your community.  Giving back can also raise your personal happiness level.
  • Choose one place to commit to monthly or a different volunteer activity each month. Either is fine!
  • Consider lending time to your local food bank, animal shelter, library, nursing home, or check in with a community center to find volunteer opportunities near you.  

2. Attend a Workout Class

  • If you typically exercise at a gym, outdoors, or at home, you likely engage in physical activity without communicating with anyone else. Any way you incorporate fitness into your weekly routine is great. However, attending a group workout class once a month makes exercise social. Group fitness classes can be interactive, fun, and a great way to try something new and meet new people.
  • Many gyms offer deals, like a free first class or a discounted rate. Also, try an app, such as ClassPass, which allows you to buy credits that can be used at various locations. Check out hot yoga, cycling, tai chi, dance, water aerobics – whatever looks interesting to try.   

3. Visit a Local Farmers Market or Community Fair

You may be missing out on community activities you’re not aware of. Check websites like Eventbrite to find cultural fairs, art walks, public concerts, markets, and more near you. 

4. Go to a Restaurant

  • If you follow a plant-based diet and find dining out difficult, keep in mind that non-eating social events occur at restaurants too.
  • Restaurants and bars often host trivia or open mic nights, sporting event viewing parties, and bingo. Some may offer darts, bowling, arcade games, fowling (football bowling), curling, table tennis, billiards, shuffleboard, chess, backgammon, or pickleball.  
  • If you feel the need to eat something when you go to an event, consider snacking beforehand and order a plant-based side or a non-caloric beverage, like tea or sparkling water.  

5. Join a League or Take a Class

  • There are numerous group classes to take, like painting, knitting, crocheting, pottery making, woodworking, sailing, origami, healthy cooking, guitar, and more.  Take a class to try something new or rekindle an old hobby. Often there are single class options, or you can take a series if you’re interested in learning more or mastering a skill.
  • Join a walking, running, or cycling club or a league, like pickleball, tennis, golf, basketball, softball, volleyball, tennis, flag football, or dodgeball. Check your local community center or YMCA for options. 

Create an ongoing checklist to keep yourself socially engaged. If five activities per month feels too overwhelming schedule them over two or three months to start. Simply committing to more social engagement may help you make new friends and enhance both your physical and mental well-being. 

How Social Connections Make You Healthier for Longer

How Social Connections Make You Healthier for Longer

2 min read

Unlike lifespan, which is how long an individual will live, healthspan is the amount of time someone is generally in good health. One’s healthspan can determine how long they can continue to enjoy life without being limited by health issues.  

Social connections play a vital role in extending healthspan. Social connections include relationships, family bonds, community, and social support networks. Such connections profoundly influence both physical and mental health, contribute to disease prevention, and improve injury and illness recovery. Many people understand the importance of diet, exercise, and managing stress as cornerstones of health, but let’s explore what the science says about social connections.  

How Community Impacts Health 

Research has revealed a significant link between mortality (death) and social isolation, loneliness, and a small social network. Studies suggest that isolated individuals have a 1.5 times greater risk of cardiovascular events, such as high blood pressure and heart attack deaths. Additionally, individuals with stronger social relationships have a 50% increased chance of surviving a heart attack. In contrast, people with the highest levels of social isolation face a two to three times higher risk of heart attack death.  

Being socially isolated can also make you more susceptible to infections. Experts have begun referring to loneliness’s effect on health as “immunometabollic syndrome,” a complex condition characterized by poor immune function and metabolic abnormalities. Loneliness, which increases death risk by 26%, has been linked to immunometabollic syndrome. Translation? Social isolation has been proven to be as risky to your health as smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and high blood pressure. 

Mental Health and Social Connections 

There is a strong relationship between social factors and mental health conditions. Having high-quality relationships with others can help prevent mental health issues, like depression, cognitive decline, and self-harm. After childbirth, social isolation has been associated with negative outcomes, such as anxiety, stress, and regret among women. Low social participation is also linked to an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, and loneliness is tied to higher rates of depression and suicide. 

Examples of Social Connectedness 

If you’re unsure what counts as being socially connected, here are some examples from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 

  • Having close bonds with others. 
  • Feeling loved, cared for, valued, and appreciated by others. 
  • The number, variety, and types of relationships a person has. 
  • Having meaningful and regular social exchanges. 
  • A sense of support from friends, families, and others in the community.
  • A sense of belonging.
  • Having more than one person to turn to for support. This includes emotional support when feeling down, and physical support, like getting a ride to the doctor’s office or grocery store or help with childcare on short notice.
  • Access to safe public areas to gather (such as parks and recreation centers). 

Social connections provide opportunities for support, companionship, and a sense of belonging, which can reduce stress, improve overall well-being, enhance immune function, and promote healthy behaviors. By fostering meaningful relationships and maintaining a strong social network, you can tap into the powerful benefits of social connections to extend your healthspan and enjoy an improved quality of life. 

5 Tips to Building Strong Relationships

5 Tips to Building Strong Relationships

2 min read

At Love.Life, we want to help you have meaningful relationships and improve social connectedness. Here are five actionable tips to get started.

  1. Connect with like-minded people. Spend time with friends and family who have similar health goals to support your own success. The brain has mirror neurons that mimic the behaviors of others. For example, have you ever yawned after seeing someone else yawn or opened your own mouth when feeding a baby? Healthy attitudes and behaviors are contagious in the same way. Seek out friends who have similar values, healthy habits, and life goals.
  2. Get active with others. Meet a friend for a walk or a workout to strengthen your friendship. Moving with another person is even more beneficial as the release of endorphins is greater together. This gives an immediate mood lift and decreases fatigue and pain perceptions and enhances overall performance. ​Each week, do something physical that you love with someone you love spending time with and notice the impact on your mood.​ Remember taking a walk after a meal with friends not only improves digestion and blood sugar control but also provides an opportunity for a deeper connection.
  3. Take care of yourself. It’s the most powerful thing you can do for everyone. Commitments should never override self-care. Focus on just the next step. Don’t discount the value of small changes, like taking a 10-minute walk or putting your phone on do not disturb for an hour. Seek out an opportunity for a warm hug or meaningful conversation to lower your stress before bed. Build your habits from the present moment and gain momentum.
  4. Be present in the moment. Don’t multitask. You can focus on the quality of the time you spend with others by reducing distractions and giving others eye contact and full attention. Just five minutes of quality conversation can have more meaning than an hour of distracted communication. If your phone is the number one distraction put it away when out with friends.​ When alone, find time for some solitude – read, meditate, spend time in nature. Sitting with your own thoughts allows time for wonder and creativity. ​
  5. Be there for others when it counts. Your friends and family will always remember your support. Talk about things that are deeper and real like health goals, finances, career choices, and relationships – not just small talk. Being a friend during a difficult time strengthens the bonds of friendship. Small acts are also important. Bring a plant to a neighbor, offer a hug, deliver food to someone in need, offer to babysit or walk a pet. Acts of service can help you re-center your time around people who matter to you.​ Commit to 15 minutes a day of connecting with people you care about.
7 Ways to Foster Healthy Romantic Relationships

7 Ways to Foster Healthy Romantic Relationships

3 min read

Having a romantic relationship has been associated with improved longevity and better health. However, unhealthy relationships can be detrimental to mental health. Here are seven tips for fostering healthy romantic partnerships that best support your physical and emotional well-being.   

1. Be happy with yourself first

In a healthy relationship a partner should complement you, not complete you. During any relationship there may be times when you’re not your best self and your partner is there to support you. But your partner cannot be solely responsible for your happiness and vice versa. When each individual prioritizes their own mental health, the relationship will be healthier.   

2. Communicate

Communication may be the most obvious component of a healthy relationship, but it’s often overlooked. Communicating with your partner includes talking, listening, body language, and tone of voice.   

Verbalize what you need or want from your partner (don’t expect them to read your mind) and listen to your partner’s needs.   

Keep your body language open and attentive and use active listening skills, like follow up questions and head nodding, to help your partner feel heard and cared about. Be cautious of your tone and continue to use courteous language throughout your relationship. Phrases like “please” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward fostering closeness and respect.   

3. Have empathy

In addition to being a good listener, it’s important to be empathetic towards your partner. Your partner may simply need you to listen and not offer a solution to their problem. Frequent check-ins can help you tune into your partner’s emotional needs. Empathy can also help you give and receive constructive criticism in a more positive way.  

4. Embrace imperfection

No relationship is perfect, and disagreements can actually help couples learn how to better communicate and work together. Research suggests that communication between healthy partners may involve one negative to every five positive comments. The idea is to have more positive than negative, not to avoid negative interactions altogether.  

When arguing, aim to solve the problem and not the person. In other words, don’t make the argument personal and work to compromise with empathy and respect.  

5. Respect one another

Mutual respect between partners is a must. Your partner should admire you and you should admire your partner. Although your partner may have different goals, passions, or a different role in your relationship, you should view each other as equals and maintain respect and admiration for the other’s purpose. This will allow you to appreciate your partner’s traits and talents and recognize what they bring to your partnership.  

You shouldn’t feel the need to be anyone but yourself when you’re with your partner and your partner should respect and support you without trying to change you. Be each other’s cheerleaders, not bullies.   

Respecting each other and yourself can mean setting boundaries and giving space when needed. While some people may take this personally, boundary setting within a relationship is healthy when approached with empathy and respect. 

6. Be like-minded but not necessarily alike.  

It’s easy to equate compatibility with sameness, but being the same or having the same interests doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthy relationship. Finding a partner who is exactly like you is rare, and while it may work for some relationships, it shouldn’t be the focus. If your partner is very into a hobby that you are not, this is not a bad thing. Finding a partner with the same values is the goal, not the same pastimes.  

7. Celebrate and have fun

Sternberg’s triangle theory of love breaks down aspects of a relationship with the idea of “consummate love” at the center. The three corners of the relationship triangle are passion, intimacy, and commitment.  With all three corners you achieve the goal of consummate love, or the ideal relationship. With commitment only you may find an “empty marriage” and with intimacy alone you may have more of a friendship bond. Scoring all three can lead to a happy and healthy relationship. 

Studies show that to engaging in stimulating and thrilling activities (such as an exciting trip or new joint hobby) can keep passion from fading in a relationship. Try to find someone who is easy to have fun with so you can grow together and lead a passionate, engaging life.  

 If you feel you are in a relationship that is abusive and need support or guidance there are many resources who can help.  

Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800)799-SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788 for assistance and support. You can also contact the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1(866)331-9474 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522 for support. All hotlines are free, confidential, and available 24/7.  

Moai: The Japanese Concept of Connection

Moai: The Japanese Concept of Connection

2 min read

Did you know that the massive stone statues of Easter Island, that symbolize those we cherish, share the same name for the Japanese concept of social connection? The shared name is moai, and in Japan the concept holds immense importance. Moai social support groups are pillars of strength within Japanese communities, and they play a role in residents’ health and longevity.

Moais are groups formed from shared experiences, values, and connections among their members. These groups provide a sense of stability and continuity in times of need and foster a strong sense of ongoing belonging and unity. The moai of Japan highlight the immeasurable value of social bonds and mutual support along life’s journey. Let’s dive deeper into moai and how you can adopt and benefit from this concept in your everyday life.

Okinawa, Japan: Moai’s Success in Action

Elders in Okinawa are known for their longevity and exceptionally fulfilling lives. Okinawans have garnered considerable attention, notably as one of the Blue Zones, due to the remarkable abundance of octogenarians, nonagenarians, and centenarians (people who live to be 80-89, 90-99, and 100+ respectively). Moai is a key factor in living a long, healthful life. Today, moais have evolved into tight-knit social networks where friends in small neighborhoods come together regularly to share life experiences, offer advice, and even provide financial help when necessary. The significant influence of moais on longevity underscores the vital role of social connections as a pillar of lifestyle medicine. Similar types of social groups have been seen in other societies known for longevity. For example, local cafes serve as gathering places for friends after work in the Blue Zone of Sardinia and Seven-Day Adventists in the Blue Zone of Loma Linda, California have regular potlucks to bring community members together.  

Research Behind Moai’s Benefits 

The impact of social connections on health has been the subject of extensive study. According to a behavioral economist from the University of London, increasing one’s social connectedness has a life satisfaction impact equivalent to receiving a $134,000 salary increase. Both the strength and quality of friendships, as determined by how often individuals interact with their friends and their satisfaction with these relationships, are positively correlated with overall life satisfaction. In a comprehensive meta-analysis of 148 studies involving over 300,000 participants, researchers found that people with robust social connections had a 50% greater chance of surviving all causes of death. This association held true regardless of age, gender, and initial health status. 

Cultivating Stronger Relationships in Your Tribe 

These five tips for building strong friendships, recommended by New York University psychologist Irene S. Levine, emphasize the importance of nurturing meaningful connections:

  1. Schedule Friendship: Treat your friendships with the same priority as other health-related routines by scheduling dedicated time with friends in your calendar.
  2. Quality Face Time: Enhance friendships by making time for phone calls, in-person get-togethers, coffee dates, and shared walks to maintain close connections.
  3. Celebrate Milestones: Remember and celebrate special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, through phone calls or cards, to reinforce close friendships.
  4. Create Traditions: Establish rituals or traditions with close friends, such as annual trips or monthly movie nights, to strengthen bonds that significantly impact well-being.
  5. Beware of Frenemies: Be cautious of “frenemies,” individuals who may appear fun, but tend to foster competition. Frenemies can have negative effects on your health, so it’s essential to prioritize connections that genuinely benefit your well-being. In fact, research suggests that interacting with people who evoke both positive and negative emotions can lead to higher blood pressure compared to interacting with those you simply dislike. This is likely why psychologists have found a connection between frenemy-like relationships and depression and heart problems.
Role of Faith in Communities

Role of Faith in Communities

< 1 min read

Faith-based communities are often important sources of social connection.  They can allow you to unite with like-minded people with similar beliefs and help you feel supported. Within a faith-based community you can also find social activities and events, which may range from volunteering to organized clubs. 

Studies have shown that there are many benefits to being a part of a faith-based community. Here are three key perks.  

Social Connection 

Being part of a faith-based community can provide a sense of social connection. This social connection and feeling of belonging can lead to new friendships and higher marriage rates. Research shows that faith-based communities tend to foster happy marriages and lower divorce rates.  

Social Support 

Faith-based communities offer a social support network. A sense of social support is especially important during times of need. Having a group to fall back on and help you cope through life’s challenges is associated with better well-being.  

Life Satisfaction and Happiness 

Faith-based communities are linked to high rates of life satisfaction. Having a sense of purpose or meaning and being optimistic can contribute to positive mental health and overall wellness. 

While research has tied being part of a faith community to all these benefits, it’s difficult to determine if these outcomes are specific to faith-based communities or communities in general. Regardless, finding a community where you feel a sense of purpose, belonging, and support is undoubtedly a great way to improve your social connectedness and overall health. 

In addition, spirituality on its own is directly linked to longevity. A sense of resilience, purpose, and pride comes with having a strong faith and is associated with improved life satisfaction and health. Some research suggests that spirituality alone results in these positive benefits, with or without the regular attendance of religious events or involvement in faith-based communities. 

How Finding Purpose Can Improve Your Health & Longevity

How Finding Purpose Can Improve Your Health & Longevity

2 min read

Life Purpose and Mortality 

Multiple studies have shown that people who lack life purpose have a higher death risk (up to three times higher according to one study). This may be because those with a distinct purpose experience fewer sleep disturbances and have a lower incidence of depression and diabetes as well as conditions that affect blood flow to the brain. In contrast, low life purpose has been linked to a higher risk of death from heart, circulatory, digestive, and blood conditions.  


While we know that psychological well-being and physical health are connected, science has yet to completely understand how. One potential link may be inflammation. Chronic stress has been shown to cause your immune cells to activate genes that trigger inflammation. Meanwhile, strong purpose has been linked to lower levels of proinflammatory gene expression.  

While brief inflammation serves a purpose within your body (such as helping to heal a cut), chronic, ongoing inflammation can up the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease. In fact, research suggests that inflammation is the root of 50% of all deaths. 

Alzheimer’s Disease 

Purpose has been shown to positively affect brain health and prevent neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, research shows that high-purpose individuals tend to have stronger connections between specific brain regions involved in cognition.  

Heart Disease 

Multiple studies have found that a higher level of life satisfaction is tied to a lower risk of developing heart disease, and the opposite is also true. One analysis even found that higher levels of optimism and life purpose were associated with a 35% reduced risk of experiencing a first-time cardiovascular event, like a heart attack.  

In people already diagnosed with heart disease, higher levels of well-being were associated with an 11% reduced risk of death and a 19% reduced risk of re-hospitalization. These findings suggest that well-being, including optimism and life purpose, may have a protective effect on heart health, both in healthy people and those with heart disease.  

Make purpose a priority and remember that it may shift over time. Living a purposeful life truly can transform your happiness and overall health.


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