Ever wondered if joining your local running club, academic association, or alumni group is actually worth it? It’s extra time, sometimes additional money, and just another thing to add to your plate, right? We’re all busy these days, but it turns out that joining a social club might have more benefits than you think! We spoke with clinical psychologist Ben Dickstein about the benefits and want to share them with you!
Backed By Research
“For one thing,” Dr. Dickstein says, “decades of research tells us that social support is perhaps the single best predictor of happiness and well-being.”
Humans are social creatures, and many different studies have shown that social support and general well-being are almost inextricably linked.
Here’s a short, non-exhaustive list of some of these published studies:
- The Relationship Between Social Support and Subjective Well-Being Across Age
- Close Relationships and Happiness
- Perceived Social Support and Its Effects on Changes in the Affective and Eudaimonic Well-Being of Chilean University Students
- Perceived Social Support and Assertiveness as a Predictor of Candidates Psychological Counselors’ Psychological Well-Being
It seems that it may not matter if you’ve joined an art association with a serious intent of improving your craft, or a neighborhood pickup baseball league. All that matters is that you make some lasting connections!
An especially important time to forge new friendships and connections, according to Dr. Dickstein, might be after moving, the birth of a child, graduation, or other milestones.
“As people move to new locations, or as life changes, it can be challenging to cultivate new friendships. This can lead to feeling cut-off and isolated, a major contributor to depression and mood disruption. Meeting people through a special interest group immediately gives you a shared activity to connect with, and this makes it easier to feel at ease and plan on spending more time together in the future.”
Big changes in your life, whether they’re positive or negative, can mean you might feel like you’re on uneven ground. A support system of great friends with similar interests can help you feel more settled and get you through transitional periods.
From Theory to Practice
The research is all well and good, but how do you put it into practice?
“I regularly encourage my clients to visit websites like Meetup.com and try out social clubs,” Dr. Dickstein suggests. Meetup is a great way to check out what’s in your area and see if anything sparks your interest!
If you want to check out other ways to find clubs you might be interested in, try asking around your neighborhood or checking on social media sites. If you’re looking for a specialty club like a running club, head to your local sports equipment store and ask if they know anything about clubs! In some cases, a quick Google search might be all you need.
Joining clubs, associations, and neighborhood groups can be a great way to meet new people, create new friendships, and make sure that you’re never without a support system. The research proves it!
If you’re looking to get involved with a new cause, check out our directory to find organizations in your area!
About Ben Dickstein
Ben Dickstein is a clinical psychologist from Cincinnati specializing in mood, anxiety, trauma, and sleep issues. Find more information about his practice at Ascend Psychological Services.