I love it when I see new words or phrases show up in society that haven’t been around before…or at least ones that weren’t on my radar in the past.
A lot of the time a word or phrase comes around because of the times we live in, for good for for bad, there is always something new to talk about and a new word invented to help describe it. The latest example would be social distancing or bubbles. Sixteen months ago, these wouldn’t have been on the tip of everyone’s tongue and yet now, you’d have to live in a hole to not know what they mean.
The latest one to come onto my radar is ‘social capital’. The word capital to me would equate to monetary wealth, but this phrase extends that definition from wealth in the form of money to wealth in the form of community, friends and family, or your social circle.
I love this since it puts forward the idea of community as something as important to consider as our financial wealth. Just like our bank accounts, we can nurture these circles and watch them grow or we can ignore them and watch them disappear.
Please know, I get that money doesn’t buy happiness, nor should we collect friends like we collect art but I hope you get where I am going with this. I want to parallel them because when we think about our future, we often think about our retirement savings and what sort of lifestyle we can live based on how much money we can accumulate, but we don’t always think about our social wealth and working on building and maintaining that; because as you are about to read, this social capital can in fact help you live a healthier and longer life. (With no evidence to support this, I would bet a strong social circle will extend the length and quality of your life more than a big bank account would.)
In this article by Kings Fund, it was found that a person’s social networks can have a significant positive impact on their overall health. It was also found that those with adequate social networks had a 50% greater survival, compared with those who had poor social relationships. Social support has also been found to be particularly important in increasing resilience and promoting recovery from illness and are powerful predictors of mortality as common lifestyle and clinical risks such as moderate smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity and high cholesterol and blood pressure
On the other hand; in this article by Kings Fund, it was found that a lack of support and social relationships can cause chronic loneliness, which produces long-term damage to physiological health through increased stress hormones, weaker immunity, and cardiovascular health. This sense of loneliness can also make it more difficult to build willpower and resilience over time, leading to engagement in unhealthy behaviors.
So, I ask you, what are you doing to build and maintain your social capital?