Ignoring Family and Friends Is As Bad For You as Smoking

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It is often a struggle to juggle maintaining close personal and family relationships with the demands of your career but research is showing that this balancing act is good for your health. In fact, recent research suggests that having a good social network can boost your chances of living a longer life by 50%…

Researchers from Brigham Young University analyzed the results of 148 studies that measured the social interaction and health outcomes of 308 849 individuals (1). What they found was that a lack of social relationships was worse for your health than physical inactivity or being obese. Leading a more solitary existence was found to be the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

The research shows that caring about others leads us to take better care of ourselves and outlines the important role that friends and family play in helping our emotional wellbeing. It also highlights how significant a role your emotions play in your overall health and wellbeing.

It is quite possible that social isolation could also adversely impact your personal productivity at work. Smoking has been shown to decrease work productivity by 10% (2)and it is quite reasonable to assume that the all-work-and- no-play approach could hinder your work output by the same amount.

A study of 268 Harvard business graduates over 70 years found the most significant predictor of business and career success was the ability to maintain close personal and family relationships.

If you think about it, the key to business is maintaining customer relationships so it makes sense that these interpersonal skills honed with family and friends are transferable to business life. As a novel way of boosting work productivity businesses could provide interpersonal communication skills training and relationships counseling for their employees.

Reference:

1) Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Med 7(7): e1000316. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

2) Burton et al, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol 41, p 863-877, 1999

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