Socializing and saying a friendly hello to people daily can actually boost your wellness. Loneliness has been a problem since the beginning of the human species. It has been the source of inspiration for philosophers, poets, political leaders, and religions. Humans biologically need each other, and to meet those needs, we crave connection with people.
Adopt the Habit: Why You Need to Say Hello to People to Improve Your Well-Being
Positive social relationships are good for your health (Kok et al., 2013). Social interactions, like wishing another person well, are related to an increase of positive emotions. These positive emotions can increase your ability to interact socially, creating a cycle of improved well-being. As a bonus, this cycle of positive emotional and friendly interactions with others improves biological measures of well-being over time, which may also improve your overall health. This may be a reason why people with positive emotional experiences and supportive relationships life longer, happier lives.
We can’t force ourselves to have positive emotions. However, to start the social-emotional well-being cycle, we can choose to engage in social behaviors, such as saying hello to somebody, starting a conversation, commenting on a blog post, or joining a discussion group. Choosing to have a meaningful conversation can help to improve mood but can also help overcome feelings of social anxiety and other sources of distress (Kashdan et al., 2014). However, you don’t have to jump into philosophical discussions right away. Just start by saying hello.
Adapt: Socialize in Ways that Work for You
If you have a job, make a point to say hello to at least one person at work. Likewise, if you go to school or engage in a daily activity like volunteering or community activities, you can say hello to people you encounter. Even if you don’t have a usual job, class, or group you attend, you can still say hello to neighbors or people you see as you walk down the street or in market places.
Pick up the phone and make a phone call, either by voice-to-voice or using a video call. Texting can be a positive interaction too, but if texting doesn’t feel like enough of a social interaction, then call instead.
Online activity can also be an excellent time to talk to someone (Chung, 2014). Internet discussion groups, bulletin boards, and social media create opportunities to have casual or deeper conversation with both friends and strangers.
Attach Your Friendly Interactions to Things You Already Do
If you already go for a walk every day, check social media (e.g. Facebook, YouTube), or encounter people at work or school, then you can easily make a point to say hello to somebody right away. However, if you don’t encounter people frequently, find an activity that will remind you to contact others. Take your dog for a walk at a dog park or through a bustling neighborhood every evening. Stop by a café every morning to say hello and have a coffee. Or make a point to post something positive to a friend on social media during your lunch break.
Remember: Wellness Habits Are the Foundation of a Life of Well-Being
Chung, J. E. (2014). Social networking in online support groups for health: How online social networking benefits patients. Journal of Health Communication, 19(6), 639–659. https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2012.757396
Kashdan, T. B., Goodman, F. R., Machell, K. A., Kleiman, E. M., Monfort, S. S., Ciarrochi, J., & Nezlek, J. B. (2014). A contextual approach to experiential avoidance and social anxiety: Evidence from an experimental interaction and daily interactions of people with social anxiety disorder. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 14(4), 769–781. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035935
Kok, B. E., Coffey, K. A., Cohn, M. A., Catalino, L. I., Vacharkulksemsuk, T., Algoe, S. B., … Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). How positive emotions build physical health: Perceived positive social connections account for the upward spiral between positive emotions and vagal tone. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1123–1132. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612470827