With World Mental Health Day just a few days ago, the topic of mental health and its implications on the individual as well as the wider community is in the spotlight. Mental health is a combination of our psychological, emotional and social well-being, and influences our ability to make choices, handle stress and interact with those around us. One in four Australians are lonely, and while it is commonly understood that humans are social creatures, just how important is companionship in improving our state of mental health? What benefits does a companionship support service provide?

Someone to talk to

Expressing how you feel, and talking about the emotional impacts of loneliness to someone means you are not isolating yourself from the world, and you are not bottling up your emotions. Communicating is such a powerful tool in boosting your confidence, getting any problems or concerns off your chest and to help you as well as others understand what you are going through. Not only that, talking to someone about your feelings and state of mental health can assist in identifying a range of potential solutions.

Getting out in the community

A lot of the time, companionship is planned around events, hobbies or activities such as painting, surfing or shopping. This means there is an added bonus to companionship as it gets you out of your home to instead interact with the community, getting some fresh air into your lungs and enjoying new experiences. Getting outdoors also increases our exposure to sunlight, with research demonstrating that sunlight exposure can be linked to the level of serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is a chemical produced by the nerve cells and is believed to help regulate mood, social behaviour, sleep, memory, appetite and digestion as well as sexual desire and function. Higher levels of serotonin correlate with improved mood, while lower serotonin levels are linked to anxiety and depression.

Less screen time, more physical exercise

Companionship provides an opportunity to tear ourselves away from screens and to move our bodies, not only via team sports but also through gentle activity such as bush walking, yoga or gardening. Studies have linked high levels of social media use with negative effects on well-being such as anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem and poor quality of sleep. Too much television is no better, with research classifying high levels of binge-watching as a minor addiction, used by those with depression or social isolation as a distraction. Keeping active is so important for both our physical and mental health, as physical exercise improves our mood and promotes good sleeping patterns.

Learning new skills

Everyone has their own unique talents, and companionship is one way that we can learn more about ourselves, each other as well as developing new skills such as cooking, music, computer skills, sports and social skills. Learning keeps our minds active, enriches our lives, boosts our sense of purpose and opens up new opportunities to be explored. Plus, research shows that learning throughout our adult lives can improve and maintain our mental well-being, as it builds our self-confidence, satisfaction and self-esteem.

Join Like Family

At Like Family, we are on a mission to end social isolation and loneliness due to illness, disability or ageing. We understand the importance of companionship, and offer carefully vetted Social Carers with a wide range of skills. If you or someone close to you need companionship, an event buddy or just a friendly face to assist with household chores, gardening or cooking, Like Family can match you with someone in your local area who matches your interests and requirements. Sign up now to take advantage of our affordable flat rates and see for yourself why we have over 100 5-star ratings on Google.