For some of us, socializing comes very easy, with the ability to chit-chat with anyone, whether it’s a close friend or a stranger in the checkout line at the grocery store. For others, conversing can be painfully hard, even with people we know well. The cognitive changes women experience during menopause can cause some to withdraw further into isolation. Still, the effect of declining estrogen on brain health only emphasizes the importance of staying socially active.
Socializing for Brain Health
The art of socializing delivers a broad range of health benefits for the brain. Social activities become even more crucial during menopause and as we age. Some of the reasons to keep your brain active and alert:
Cognitive Stimulation: Thought-provoking conversations engage and challenge your cognitive abilities, contributing to improved memory and mental agility.
Cognitive Reserve: Being around other people and trying new social environments help build these reserves, giving your brain the flexibility to adapt to new experiences and challenges.
Memory Matters: Active memory is often compromised by estrogen decline during menopause. Social interactions involve remembering names, faces, and details of conversations. This mental exercise is an excellent way to sharpen your active memory and recall abilities.
Dopamine Release: Laughing it up with others triggers the release of “feel good” dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and regulating emotional balance.
Emotional Support: Another chemical compound in the body is oxytocin, a hormone that fosters bonding and reduces stress. Building a solid dynamic support system during menopause can go a long way in managing emotional ups and downs.
Mental Health: Loneliness and depression can become more pronounced during menopause. Being with other like-minded women or a network of friends can lift spirits, offering a platform to share experiences, express emotions, and receive support.
Speaking to Learn: Learning about new topics, different languages, and expanded vocabulary goes a long way in promoting memory, cognitive flexibility, and processing.
Sense of Purpose: Menopause can sometimes throw our self-confidence off balance. Connecting with others provides a feeling of belonging and purpose.
Socializing with other people is essential for cognitive health. Once you develop a healthy habit of reaching out to others, a positive feedback loop is created. It can become a beautiful cycle where confidence continues to grow, happiness increases, and the literal benefit to brain health keeps the process going.
Ways to Improve Your Socialization Skills
Becoming more aware of the importance of social interactions is the first step, but enhancing socialization skills can make the journey smoother and deepen meaningful relationships. This snowball effect benefits the brain in multiple ways, including memory, learning, adaptability, processing, and other areas of executive functioning.
- Active Listening: It’s easy to relate to a story and accidentally interrupt the person talking with your own thoughts. Practice active listening by focusing entirely on what others are saying. Pause before responding and then do so thoughtfully, showing respect and value for their perspective.
- Initiate Conversations: Take the initiative to start conversations with friends, family, or new acquaintances. Feeling shy? A simple “Hello, how are you?” or another type of genuine question about the person’s day can be enough to break the ice and keep the conversation going.
- Join Social Groups: Seek out social groups or activities that align with your interests. Whether it’s a book club, exercise class, or hobby-based gathering, participating in groups centered around shared passions provides a natural and enjoyable social context. For those introverts, online groups are a great way to meet other people from the comfort of home.
- Practice Empathy: Empathy is a crucial component of successful social interactions, and women going through menopause are the very group often in need of encouragement and support. Practice empathy without trying to be the problem solver. Sometimes, your friend simply needs an ear.
Humans are not meant to live in isolation. Connection and community are fundamentally crucial in contributing to emotional nurturing, physical health, and cognitive growth. Take a proactive approach to brain health today for a sharper tomorrow, and phone a friend.
At CleopatraRX, we are on a mission to empower women to take control of their brain health during menopause. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.