May is Mental Health Month! Last year’s theme – 4Mind4Body was a huge success so we are going to the next level to explore new topics that benefit our whole body. In particular, we are looking at social connections and recreation and how it impacts our mental health.

Why is social connection good for our mental health?

Did you know that having strong social connections can strengthen our immune system, help us recover from disease, and lengthen our life? Yes, social connections are good for our overall physical health, but mentally, it can also lower rates of anxiety and depression.

As social beings, humans need valuable connections. It brings a sense of support and comfort to us and eliminates loneliness that can lead to mental health issues. According to Mental Health America, over 71% of people turn to their friends and family in time of stress, meaning just over 25% have no one to confide in.  Loneliness is a key symptom of depression and it is one of the leading reasons people seek mental health counseling.

In recovery, social connections play a key role. Group therapy offers clients insights and helps clients see they are not alone in their mental health struggle. It also helps to ease the sense of social isolation and presents an opportunity to practice re-engaging with others. At Lifeskills South Florida, in addition to our group therapy, we help our clients find continued support in sober and mental health recovery with daily meditation groups, Friday community meetings, and Sunday community meals. Clients are also encouraged to join relapse prevention groups, self-help support groups, and community meetings such as 12-Step, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous.

Why is physical activity good for mental health?

We know the key role social interaction plays in improving mental health, but adding healthy activities and hobbies is also important. Research shows that exercise and recreation improve mental well-being by reducing anxiety, and depression and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. It has also been shown to increase self-esteem and reduce social isolation.

Additional benefits include:

  • prevent heart disease and high blood pressure
  • lower your risk for stroke, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and diabetes
  • improve your sleep
  • increase your energy
  • decrease some kinds of pain
  • boost your immune system
  • help with weight management
  • decreases stress, anger, and tension
  • offers a greater sense of well-being
  • relieves pent-up muscle tension
  • stimulates feel-good hormones
  • burns off stress hormones
  • increases blood flow to the brain

Myrlande Banica, Director of Nursing, shares, “Exercise and recreation is important for our clients at Lifeskills South Florida because as a vital part of the treatment model, it is key to long-term wellness and successful outcomes.”

We take a holistic approach to treatment by providing clients multiple opportunities to be active. Yoga is a key part of recreation at Lifeskills. Group yoga classes are part of the client’s daily schedules. Our certified yoga instructor, Alice Saltzman, pairs the philosophy of mindfulness with breathing and movement to help calm the brain and body.  Our certified personal trainer, Heather Wright, also offers physical fitness classes to our clients 3 days a week.

Adding some fun activities into your day such as walking, swimming, biking, or even enjoying yoga outside in nature is good for you physically and mentally.

Social interaction and fun activities as part of a healthy lifestyle can provide substantial benefits to those living with a chronic health condition.  If you or someone you love needs help with a mental health disorder or co-occurring substance use disorder, call Lifeskills South Florida today at 866.321.9430 or complete our contact form for more information.