Over the last year, as a village, we’ve banded together to navigate the strange and ever-turning tides of the pandemic. We’ve grappled with routine changes, what to prioritize even though we are totally OUT of our routines and generally focused on how to make it THROUGH.

Here in Oregon, vaccinations are increasing every day and we find ourselves presented with a new challenge: How do we get back to real health? We’ve been trying on new and different options (in lockdown), what of these new aspects do we keep when our forced restrictions lift?

Following the science, it’s clear that one key element we must re-engage/invest/prioritize is our loose, daily social interactions. Last week as I was finishing Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown my interest was particularly piqued by her inclusion of social scientist Susan Pinkerton’s work.

Pinkerton’s work is available in long form in her book “The Village Effect” and in short form on her TED talk. I highly recommend the 16 minute listen/watch and my link also goes to her TED transcript.

Her underlying message is this:

Our casual, in-person, regular social interactions impact the neurotransmitters in our brain. They increase trust and pleasure, while decreasing stress and pain.

One of the strongest predictors of longevity is social integration, or how many people do you talk to throughout the day. When she released her talk in 2017, people were spending more time online than any other activity throughout the day. (Imagine how much that must have increased today in 2021!)

Is it the same thing as being there in person if you’re in contact with, say your kids, by text? No.

Is it important to distinguish between interacting in person and via social media? Yes. Online and in-person interactions do not produce the same benefits / reactions in our brains.

Simple face to face interaction (like making eye contact, a high five, shaking someone’s hand) releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters. Like a vaccine they protect you now, in the present, and well into the future. All of these benefits pass under our conscious radar which is why we conflate online activity with the real thing. True health is more than just sets and reps. It’s being connected, by laughter, banter, common goals and challenges and finding the village that fits you best.

Pandemic or not, you can always count on us to provide science, information and inspiration about how to live your best, strongest life. We believe in a comprehensive approach to wellness and vitality that supports our clients in all aspects of health.

In health,

Author Lee Carson is principal and co-founder at Hyatt Training. She believes in a minimally processed whole-foods approach to nutrition, and loves sharing ways to use food and movement as catalysts and tools for optimal health. Learn more about Lee, or get in touch with her by emailing us at Go@HyattTraining.com.

Hyatt Training is a team of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers and health professionals in Portland, Oregon. To read more studio leadership posts like this one, follow this link.