Published: 07th November 2017
Do you lack social skills? Beware, this could be affecting your body and stressing your mind out, says study
The study is the first to link social skills to physical and not just mental health, meaning a combination of depression, stress and social exclusion all rolled into one fat ugly chain of thought
There is always that one person who is the butt of all jokes and is often alone because of poor social skills worsened by existing stereotypes, judgement and lack of empathy. Well, here's news, these individuals may experience more stress and loneliness which could negatively affect their physical as well as mental health, a study has found.
"We have known for a long time that social skills are associated with mental health problems like depression and anxiety. But we have not known definitively that social skills were also predictive of poorer physical health. Two variables - loneliness and stress - appear to be the glue that bind poor social skills to health," he said.
We have known for a long time that social skills are associated with mental health problems like depression and anxiety
Chris Segrin, University of Arizona
The study, published in the journal Health Communication, is among the first to link social skills to physical, and not just mental health. The research is based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of 775 people, aged between 18 and 91 years, who were asked to respond to questions designed to measure social skills, stress, loneliness, and mental and physical health.
Social skills refer to the communication skills that allow people to interact effectively and appropriately with others. Segrin focused on several specific indicators of social skills such as the ability to provide emotional support to others or self-disclosure, and the ability to share personal information with others or negative assertion skills.
Talk it out: The study found many of these individuals found it difficult to interact or even initiate relationships
They also focused on the ability to stand up to unreasonable requests from others known as relationship
initiation skills, and the ability to introduce yourself to others and get to know them. The participants who had deficits in those skills reported more stress, more loneliness, and poorer overall mental and physical health, said Segrin.
"We started realising about 15 years ago that loneliness is actually a pretty serious risk for health problems. It is as serious of a risk as smoking, obesity or eating a high-fat diet with lack of exercise," he said.
So the next time you see a wallflower in your school or maybe even while hanging out with friends, you and your friends could always take the first step and socialise with somebody who may want to, but doesn't know how. And if you're the wallflower and are feeling lonely, step out, breathe in some clean air, take a deep breath and go talk to those kids. Be confident.