Humans are social creatures. Think of the worst punishment that people reference in prison: solitary confinement. We NEED to be around people. I’ve always understood this intellectually, but I often lose sight of it by focusing on other areas like health and school instead. However, I’ve realized that mental and physical health depend A LOT on socializing, perhaps as much as food and exercise affect health.
For example, when I was into the Paleo diet and eating “clean” I rarely shared food with anyone because I was consuming a very limited diet. Yes, I was eating a “clean” diet but I was missing a huge aspect of socializing, which is sharing food with people. Only recently, I realized that there are so many health benefits to socializing that are worth the small intake of junk food.
Consider what is “healthier”: the perfect kale salad with wild-caught salmon and extra-virgin-blessed by a rabbi-organic olive oil eaten alone in your apartment OR a white bread sandwich eaten with friends with a few good laughs sprinkled on top? I would argue the sandwich is actually “healthier”. The sandwich with friends has a lot of benefits: laughing, walking to the café, getting outside, developing deeper connections, and other effects we haven’t discovered. I suspect scientific research will show these effects in the coming years. In fact, some research suggests that simply hugging may decrease levels of cortisol (a stress hormone).
Of course, you can always choose healthier options when eating out and suggest more athletic social activities. But if your filter for social activities is only what fits into the “healthy lifestyle” you follow, your activities will be limited. And unless you are a professional athlete (meaning your income depends on your athletic ability), it probably is not worth it. Basing all socializing on a fitness/health activity, such as Crossfit, means if you get injured, then your social life will be severely hindered. Plus when you meet people outside of that group, it will be harder to connect since you are used to only talking to people in Crossfit. An exercise group should just be just one of the many tribes you are part of.
So as much as eating well and exercise are part of being “healthy”, regular doses of in-person socializing are the supplement most of us need more of.