Photo Credit: by Malina Sternberg, flickr.com
What if the health of your social life goes down to the very core of who you are… your bones? While it may seem that these two important life elements would have absolutely nothing to do with the other, that may not be the case. Your bone health--or lack thereof--may indeed be playing a part in the health of your social life, which affects much more than just what you choose to do on the weekends.
In this article, we’ll explore the connection between your bones and your friends. We’ll take a look at how psychosocial stress may play out in affecting the very structure of your body, and what you can do about that. Make no bones about it: your social life truly can play a part in your physical health. Believe it or not, the two may be more intertwined than you ever thought possible.
Whether you have osteoporosis or you’re looking to understand the relationship between your social connections and your bones, you’ve come to the right place.
What is psychosocial stress?
It is an innate and unchangeable need that humans are relational creatures who need to feel accepted socially. We all want to feel like we belong somewhere, with people who love and respect us. However, when that need is at risk or threatened in some way, we will naturally experience stress.
According to VeryWell Mind, psychosocial stress is “the result of a cognitive appraisal (your mental interpretation) of what is at stake and what can be done about it. More simply put, psychosocial stress results when we look at a perceived social threat in our lives (real or even imagined) and discern that it may require resources we don’t have.”
On the other hand, there is physiological stress. As NCBI puts it, “Physiological stress is indicated by an unpleasant sensoric, emotional and subjective experience that is associated with potential damage of body tissue and bodily threat. … Psychosocial stress is induced by situations of social threat including social evaluation, social exclusion and achievement situations claiming goal-directed performance.” These two types of stress are distinctly different yet undeniably interconnected.
Stressors are simply things in our lives that have the ability to make us feel stressed. Having too many stressors can feel overpowering, and it’s essential to manage your stressors so that you are not suffering on a mental level from the issues in your life. Eliminating stressors or learning to cope with the stressors you cannot change is vital to leading a happy and fulfilling life.
As Study.com defines it, psychosocial stress is “stress experienced as a result of our social interaction with others.” In other words, the relational and people-oriented parts of ourselves need to be taken care of just like the other elements of our lives.
Psychosocial stress can come in many different forms and can be one of the most difficult stressors to deal with since it affects us so deeply. Psychosocial stress can make it very hard to cope. Things like a threat to our self-esteem, social status, or general acceptance within a group are all examples of common causes of psychosocial stress. Threats to our self-worth also belong in this group. Rocky friendships, bullying, changes in social status, performance in school or other activities, marital strife, death of a loved one, illness, abuse, and financial strain can all lead to psychosocial stress.
Essentially, psychosocial stress occurs when there is a real or perceived threat to the healthy and flourishing social fabric of our lives. When that fabric is not flourishing but actually under attack or at risk, it can be very difficult to deal with mentally and emotionally. And, as we’ll learn, it can harm our physical health as well.
How does psychosocial stress impact bone health?
Can your social life really affect your bone health? According to science and research, the answer seems to be yes. Recent studies have suggested that there is a link between psychosocial stress and bone loss.
MedPageToday shares, “High levels of social stress were associated with greater bone loss in postmenopausal women, a Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) longitudinal study found. Women that reported more negative social interactions, or social strain, and more limitations in social activity, or social functioning, had a greater loss of bone mineral density (BMD) over a 6-year follow-up compared to women that had low stress. … In addition, poor quality of social relationships had a greater magnitude of effect on bone loss in postmenopausal women than the number of relationships did.”
This finding may also account for the fact that fractures occur at much higher rates in women who have passed through menopause. Unfortunately, conditions such as osteoporosis and fractures can result in disabilities and potentially even death. That’s why bone health is so important, especially for those who are most at risk.
New Scientist reports, “Social stress may release hormones that affect bone loss, a finding that might be linked to the higher incidence of bone fractures after menopause. In a study of more than 8000 women aged 50 to 79, researchers found that those who reported higher levels of social stress – defined as strained relationships or stress related to social ties – were also at higher risk of bone fractures.”
In other words, negative life experiences or instances of social stress may trigger the degradation of bone mineral density in our bodies. As we go through life, it’s vital to our happiness and health to have thriving friendships and relationships, general acceptance within our communities of choice, and a sense of belonging and support, if we are to be at our peak health levels. It’s also apparent that what is most important is not the quantity of social connections we have but the quality.
Stressors such as illnesses and diseases, changes in family dynamics, and financial burdens are all common, especially as people age. But it is just beginning to become apparent that these facts of life can actually affect a person’s physical health, even all the way down to their bones.
At the end of the day, a thriving social life isn’t just good for our mental and emotional health--it’s essential to our physical health, too.
Other health impacts of psychosocial stress
Bone health isn’t the only thing that can be affected by psychosocial stress. Recent research suggests that an unfulfilling social life can also impact other diseases, from cancer to infertility.
According to HeartMath, “Numerous studies have linked psychological and social stress with the onset of a host of conditions, from diminished mental health to obesity. Now, researchers have discovered a link between psychosocial anxiety and aggressive breast cancer. In a study, a team of scientists from the University of Illinois School of Public Health found that patients with higher levels of stress were significantly more likely to have an aggressive form of breast cancer when compared to their less-stressed counterparts.”
It is unclear from the study whether breast cancer caused the stress or was worsened by it, but the fact remains that stress is bad news for your overall health.
Psychosocial stress can lead not only to a loss of bone density but also to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, infertility, asthma, and more. Chronic social stress can manifest as mental illness, unhealthy and abnormal rises in blood pressure, digestive disorders, dependence on substances, heart disease, and other conditions, all of which have negative impacts on your health.
As you can see, addressing psychosocial stress is of the utmost importance. Leaving it unattended is a bad idea for not only your life happiness levels but also for your very health and wellness.
So what can you do about it if you are experiencing psychosocial stress? While sometimes we face things in life that we cannot change or control, we are always in charge of how we respond and how we feel about the obstacles that come our way.
In the next section, we’ll provide tips for managing psychosocial stress and make recommendations on how you can improve your social life for the sake of your health.
Tips on managing psychosocial stress, or how to improve your social life for your health
To manage your stress levels to ensure optimal health and bone density, there are steps you can take. Whether you have a thriving social life with many deep and meaningful relationships or you realize your social life could use some work, we have tips to help you reach the next level.
Some steps you can take to manage the stress of your social life include eliminating your stressors, learning how to listen properly (even to complaints!), training yourself with new coping skills, and meditating. Overall, the goal is to increase your sense of belonging and purpose so that you feel happier, less stressed, and more capable of dealing with life’s traumas. Pick up a healthy lifestyle with good habits and you will attract likeminded people.
One of the best ways to improve your social life is to start small and simple: just reach out and get connected. Social networks in the modern age have done their part in making us feel alienated, but don’t forget that their power can also be used for good. Catch up with old friends or invite someone new for coffee--you never know who else may be looking for a friend. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We enjoy engaging with our customers and answering whatever questions you may have.
In an article titled 11 Habits That May Improve Your Social Life, Bustle recommends tips like reaching out, saying yes to plans, working to eliminate anxiety, overcoming your fear of rejection, living an interesting life, and asking for help when you need it.
It may even help to understand your type. Personality tests have again sparked in popularity in recent years, and it’s mostly because they can be extremely revealing and insightful when it comes to understanding yourself--and how you relate to other people. The Myers-Briggs personality test and the Enneagram are two mega-popular personality tests at the moment, and both will help you understand how to optimize your relationships. Take the test and find out your type so you can improve your social life accordingly.
The more you socialize and build relationships with the people around you, the easier it becomes. Remember that improving your social life isn’t just for fun and entertainment--it’s for your health.
Medications for bone health and osteoporosis treatment
Despite your best efforts to manage your psychosocial stressors in life, your doctor may recommend something more to help manage your bone health. In some cases, medications for bone health and osteoporosis treatment are the proper course of treatment. Talk to your doctor about the right options for you.
Actonel, Fosamax, Boniva, and Reclast are all common drugs for osteoporosis treatment. Of course, before beginning any course of treatment, you should talk to your doctor and take any medications exactly as prescribed.
And remember--even if you’re taking prescription medications to manage your bone health, that doesn’t mean your social life somehow becomes unimportant or irrelevant. It’s still essential to keep a healthy and fulfilling social life for the sake of your mental and emotional happiness as well as health concerns other than bone density. Don’t forget that psychosocial stress affects more than just your bone health--it touches every other part of your life and body, too.
Medications for stress relief
Sometimes, we need a little extra help when it comes to stress management. Even people with healthy social lives may require additional medication for stress relief or general wellness. This should always be at the advice of a qualified medical professional who truly understands your situation and your history. Depending on these factors, your doctor may prescribe a medication to aid you in your stress relief efforts.
Medications for stress relief include antidepressants as well as some beta blocks (which control blood pressure and also work to decrease stress symptoms), such as Brintellix, Effexor XR, and Paxil.
Wondering where you can find medications for stress relief? You’ve come to the right place. On our website, we offer various prescriptions shipped straight to your door, saving you time and trouble. Whether you need medications for bone health and osteoporosis treatment or medications for stress relief, we’ve got what you need.
Skye Sherman is a professional writer who has been published in numerous local and international outlets. She has also worked for a wellness company and is very familiar with the healthcare industry. She holds a degree from a Florida university.
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