In this post we will examine why face to face time is beneficial and superior to interactions that are conducted through other mediums, like chat rooms or other social media.
Barbara L. Fredrickson, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has written a new book about love. In it she goes through the data of love and its components. As a researcher she has followed that book with other publications in scholarly journals. The theme of her work is that positivity is good for individuals in multiple ways. She also looks at love from a science point of view and how to enrich the experience.
Humans view love in different ways, but one thing that seems to be true, love leads to social connections. Love also has a physical impact on our bodies. Some love is just connecting with others rather than romantic.
The kind of interaction the internet provides is very different from the face to face type of those who join fraternal or civic groups for instance. Physical interactions such as those found in volunteer groups, “ affects the cardiovascular system called the vagal tone”, she says in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science while writing in a recent Tampa Bay Perspective on March 31, 2013.
The brain is connected to the heart by the vagus nerve. This direct connection supports the old saying of a negative life experience in the area of love breaking the heart. The two are really physically tied together!
Fredrickson studied the health benefits and concluded, “In short, the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa”. Furthermore, she writes, “This mutual influence also explains how a lack of positive social contact diminishes people”. If you can align yourself in a positive and passionate cause, you can’t seem to do anything but help your health and the cause in most cases, it would seem.
She goes on to explain that the ability to connect with people is a use it or lose it talent and can be strengthened or lost depending on how it is exercised. As any volunteer will tell you, interacting with others is one of the more frequent things that most do. To interact well and stay on course for helping the cause takes a lot of effort and attention. This is more often than not done face to face, with other passionate volunteers who also want to help.
The benefits of face to face time that volunteers get can be very helpful to the health of all participants. Positive interactions with positive people are the most beneficial it seems, which makes sense. However, connecting with other people is part of the human experience and that is what charity groups and the volunteer groups that support them offer in the volunteer experience.
Volunteers by definition are not paid so they must see other less obvious benefits if they are to justify their time and effort. With science hot on the trail of other health benefits seen in positive relationships, everyone should be considering somehow positioning themselves for more happiness as well as physical and mental health improvements.
Find a cause or charity that you can be passionate about and join. Make it a highly positive experience and the health benefits should show up, according to the research. However you might be too happy and busy to notice.