From saying good morning to the barista at your favorite coffee shop to chatting with your best friend over a cocktail after work, socialization is a part of who we are. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed countless things about how we live our lives, and one of the biggest things is how we socialize. What is the importance of socialization in our lives?
We’ve Always Had Socialization
Throughout human history, we have created civilizations that are the result of one thing—socialization! We are born into social groups (families) and live our entire lives as part of communities, clubs, workplaces and societies that are also socialization-based. These communities and groups allow us to learn, grow, work and thrive, and they also help to influence and define our personal identities. Our thirst for socialization is also what led to many of the greatest inventions of human history—writing and language, telegraphs, telephones, pens and paper and the internet. All of these tools help us to stay connected.
The Importance of Socialization
Social connections help us to feel accepted and comforted. When we have our values or ideas accepted and praised by others, we feel good. One study in Nature found that we evolved into being social creatures when primates switched from looking for food at night to doing activities by day, when they would be more vulnerable to predators. Being social and communicating does not just make us feel good, but it also protects us!
Contact Helps Us to Stay Strong and Healthy
When we have face-to-face contact with other people, we can fully realize the importance of socialization. Face-to-face contact can release oxytocin, which is a hormone that increases your level of trust, lowers cortisol levels, lowers stress and improves mood. When we socialize, we also experience the release of dopamine, which can decrease pain levels and make us feel happy.
One fascinating study found that the touch of a romantic partner can relieve physical pain! Another medical study demonstrated that cancer patients undergoing treatment experienced better outcomes when they had regular access to socialization and interaction with others. The importance of socialization is not just for our minds, but also for our bodies that benefit from the chemicals released when we do so.
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