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 Annual 2012

Annual 2012


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Get A Social Life

Friends and Fun Work Wonders for Your Health

      When event planner Sanford Marshall and his wife, Megan Wood Marshall, moved to Alameda in 2004 after living in San Francisco, the two were eager to meet other local families.
      “We didn’t know anyone in the city and really wanted to create a sense of community,” says Marshall, the father of two teens. So in 2009, the Marshalls, along with another couple, Rusti Porter and her husband, Martin Geraghty, launched the Alameda Social Club (www.weddingcoach.bz/SMP/asc.html), as a way of providing a forum for local residents who want to meet others, while also supporting
local businesses and charitable
      Research supports the club’s premise that no man is an island. For more than a decade, scientists have pursued the connection between happiness and health, and emerging research validates what many people have intuitively known — that having friendships allows adults to maintain a sense of peace and fulfillment and leads to a healthier, more balanced and longer life.
      Sandra Jordan Brackett, an East Bay marriage and family therapist, notes that socialization boosts serotonin levels in the same manner as antidepressant medications, leaving people with a heightened sense of well-being and happiness.
      “When people feel depressed, they often tend to become isolated,” Brackett says. “Yet being around others, whether it’s in the form of an outing with friends or attending a support group, can help uplift a mood and consequently result in better physical health.”
      Brackett notes the holidays can often be a hard time for people who are mourning the loss of a loved one, dealing with heightened family or financial tensions or even the extra stresses and demands of holiday preparation.
      “Having friends, family or a strong social network you can count on has far-reaching benefits for your health,” Brackett says. “Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. Joining an activity or asking a friend to lunch can increase your feelings of happiness and sense of self-worth.”
      Being sociable is known to have a variety of other health benefits. Medical research shows that getting out and interacting with others can also:
      • Limit the effects of Alzheimer’s disease
      • Guard against insomnia or poor sleep patterns
      •Maintain healthy blood pressure levels
      •Boost the immune system
      Knowing that it can be hard for people in different stages of life to meet others, the Alameda Social Club tries to remove barriers that might make people feel uncomfortable.
      “Just by showing up, people are saying they are open to making new friends,” says Sanford Marshall. “I know that small talk can often seem like pulling teeth, so my wife and I try to introduce people at events and to offer wine tastings and art/music activities where people can talk with others about shared interests.”
      Marshall says the social group attracts people of all ages from both Oakland and Alameda. In October, the club had its first-ever family event.

How to Connect Locally

East Bay MOMS
Meet other parents and their children through this group that provides support, companionship and networking for all local parents of toddlers and infants and offers a monthly newsletter and a variety of activities. www.eastbaymoms.com.

Connect with other local residents who meet regularly in groups to share activities, hobbies and interests. www.meetup.com.

Book Clubs
Books Inc. in Alameda offers book clubs for adults, children, gardeners and fiction lovers. 1344 Park St., Alameda. (510) 522-2226, www.booksinc.net.

Hit the Dog Park
You and Fido can both make new friends at one of the areas’ local dog parks where owners often socialize while their four-legged friends enjoy off-leash fun and exercise. For a full list of Oakland dog parks, visit the website for the Oakland Dog Owners Group at www.odogparks.org.

Family Bike Ride
On the first Sunday of each month, Alameda Bicycle offers free family rides from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. Take a cruise around the city and finish the ride at Tucker’s Ice Cream where you can enjoy a free scoop. On every other Thursday, you can enjoy a coffee shop ride at 6 p.m. It is open to kids but these rides mainly attracts adults only. 1522 Park St., Alameda, (510) 522-0070. www.alamedabicycle.com.

Meet new friends while helping others throughout Alameda County. Volunteers are needed for one-time and ongoing events. Volunteer Center of the East Bay. (510) 232-0163. www.helpnow.org.

Laughter Yoga
This fun form of yoga combines playful, easy laughter exercises with some yogic breathing. The Oakland Lifefire Laughter Club was started in 2007 by Annie Goglia, a certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and Life Coach, and meets on the first Tuesdays and third Mondays of each month. Visit www.lifefire.com for more information.


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