Humans, by nature, long to be within the company of others. We are not solitary creatures by any definition whatsoever. We venture out in groups, whether it be to restaurants, to clubs, to movies, to bars, etc. Females even tend to find safety in numbers by accompanying one another to the restroom. Luckily for us, our love for social interaction has a direct link to healthier living. We are able to maintain a healthier lifestyle simply by existing in the presence of those we care about.

Interacting with others has been found to manage stress, which is an imperative task to keep up with, no matter who you are. It is important to keep track of your stressors and to make time to maintain strong relationships outside of work or school. Many people receive the bulk of their social interaction through the workplace or their classes, which relays and underlying tone of stress in itself, due to the amount of exertion that is done in those places. It is important to make time to relax with friends, family, or significant others outside of stress-filled environments. A great place to do this is at the gym since you will be motivated to work out, with all the added benefits of exercising in a group. Plus – if Legally Blonde is any indication – we all know that exercising releases endorphins, and endorphins make people happy. Why not release some endorphins with a friend?

Laughter is another important aspect, and arguably the best reward, of social interaction. Laughter inevitably goes hand-in-hand with the building of relationships and maintains numerous health benefits purely in itself. We have all heard that “laughter is the best medicine” and that statement has inexorably proven to be true. Much like social interaction in general, the added advantage of laughter within a relationship also lowers stress and improves one’s state of mind. That’s a lot of stress relief in one sitting!

While maintaining a social life is a central part of keeping up with a healthy mental lifestyle, there are also some physical health benefits to social interaction. It has been found that in addition to stress-relief and happiness, social interaction also has the ability to strengthen one’s immune system and protect against harmful diseases.

Strong relationships are a vital part of human existence – the relationships we sustain are probably the most essential parts of our lives. The better our relationships are with others, the better our health will be, as well. Scientists have found that those in strong relationships are at a lower risk for contracting diseases (both mental and physical) than those who are not. The quality of the relationships we maintain are crucial to our well-being, as well as the well-being of those around us – social interaction is a two-way street, after all.

So stop working overtime in order to spend time with your colleagues – go to happy hour with them instead. Exercise with friends. Go out with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Smile. Laugh. And never stop trying to strengthen your relationships.

Your mental and physical health will ultimately thank you in the end.