Day 7. Make time for IRL connections

Coffee date, anyone?
Slow Your Scroll Challenge

DAY 7 OF 10

Make time for IRL connections

Social media connects us with other people, which is one of our basic needs as humans. During these last 2 years when in-person hangouts became a tough activity, social media served as an important space for socializing. Can you imagine what it would have been like to social distance without social media?

Research even suggests that the way our brains process online friendships may not be much different from offline friendships. Indeed, social media connections can add value to our lives in all sorts of ways, including to help us:

  • feel less alone in our struggles
  • get helpful information or good advice
  • reach healthy goals
  • share in the same interests
  • gain a deeper sense of belonging

Make friends — on and offline

While online connections have been helpful during COVID-19, new findings from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest virtual socializing may not be enough. The report found that 44 percent of teens in the United States feel persistently sad and hopeless, with a lack of socialization as a top contributing factor.

You don't have to look far to find examples of why offline connections are critical for our mental health:

  • One study found that people with IRL social support, as opposed to online support, felt less depressed, anxious, and socially isolated.
  • In a study of 11,000 adults ages 50 and older, those who regularly spent time with friends and family had the lowest risk of depressive symptoms two years later than participants who had less frequent contact.
  • Other research has found that having strong friendships can help people better cope with stress and possibly reduce future stressors.

Today's challenge: Take it offline

Let's focus on bolstering your bonds with your offline community. Check your calendar and schedule some quality time with friends, relatives, or colleagues. If COVID-19 is a concern for you, plan to meet up outdoors or connect through an old-fashioned phone call.

If you have kids, encourage them to spend time with a friend as well.

Think about activities you enjoy or that sound fun. You might meet up for:

  • coffee or tea
  • a walk or hike
  • yoga class
  • a park playdate with the kids

Tomorrow, we'll be talking about the importance of having a passion — or many.

Until tomorrow,
The Healthline Team

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