Updated: Oct 1, 2019
Cornhole for Wellness.
"A new sport, you find your friends." (Horrible german translation.)
It’s not about the cornhole.
Moving abroad or relocating cities can be challenging. Moving overseas makes for great stories and perspective, but it’s difficult to branch out and make new friends. Especially as an adult! Especially if you don't speak the language!
PSA (public service announcement): Learn some other languages when you are young. Think of all the friends we miss out on because we can’t communicate!
Meeting new people all of the time is … exhausting. Bubbly extroverts might not mind, but since most of us are probably on the Introvert — Extrovert spectrum somewhere in the middle (lets call it “ambivert”) it’s important to figure out how to create situations to meet neighbors and new friends but without so much effort and MINIMAL small talk.
Holing up in your new apartment or home is probably part of the reason depression and anxiety surround relocation so often, especially in the military overseas.
The “Spanglish”, “Germanglisch” and other “ish” communication are even more exhausting! It’s fun for about 10 minutes over a bottle of wine, but the language butchering thing gets old real quick.
Cornhole to the rescue!
I hate small talk. You probably do too. It’s why most of us avoid a sales job and spend years upon years in school to avoid going into sales to make half the income. In health care (my choice for 7 years of student loans), we’re constantly trying to educate patients to create an “environment for healing” so they can heal themselves of pain naturally.
This is basically "setting the stage so that healthy behaviors just happen. Here are a few examples of preparation that allows the good decision to be made even when we are tired or stressed.
1. Meal prepping on Sunday afternoon makes it easier on busy lunchbreaks or tired evenings to reach for something already cooked that is healthy vs ordering a greasy pizza.
2. Spending money on blackout curtains blocks the light to allow easier and better sleep.
3. Knowing yourself enough to join a gym with an accountability buddy so you actually exercise daily.
4. Download 10 minute meditation apps that are so easy you can take a moment to connect to your breath, start becoming aware of your stress triggers, and start becoming less of a jerk.
There are countless other tricks to save us from ourselves for health and wellness and they really do make it easier not to fall into the typical traps of self sabotage.
However, when it comes to a healthy social life there is little to be found in advice from the establishment of science and health care. Industry has stepped in and created "social media" to fill the gap. Is this actually helpful?
According to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a study showed that the more time young adults spent on social media, the more likely they were to have problems sleeping and report symptoms of depression. Dimensions such as fake friends, cyberbullying and less face time are negatively impacted leading to less social connection. The verdict is out because there are of course some good aspects such as finding support from like minded people and shared hobbies online.
In a 2017 book by Susan Pinker, thousands of people were tracked over decades and things like cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diet, exercise, and smoking habits were far less relevant to a long and healthy life when compared to their social life!
Actually the top two predictors of a long healthy life are:
1. Having close relationships (people you can lean on during difficult times)
2. Social Integration (how much do you interact with people throughout the day: weak and strong bonds)
And importantly, Face-to Face. Not online.
It turns out socializing isn’t a complete waste of time like Mr. Neibur said in 8th grade. Focusing on nurturing social relationships increases our personal health and well-being. Socializing not only with our loved ones, but also with the bakery lady, the coffee guy, the German neighbor, and office mates helps us live longer and better.
Our biological systems are far more complicated than we can imagine but a complex interplay of hormones, neurotransmitters and other factors evolved to select for social connected-ness as beneficial for well-being. It does make sense at the macro level. Science is just a bit lagging in figuring out the details.
It’s not about the cornhole.
The game of cornhole is a lever. A lever to bring people of differing backgrounds, differing languages, and differing ability levels together to play and socialize. The game is simple enough to explain with words or body language takes about 2 minutes. It’s modifiable so that stronger or weaker people can be leveled. It’s cheap and easy to make your own equipment. And mostly importantly, it gives people the reason to stand around outside and play a friendly game that’s fun and social without having to suffer through small talk.
Setting up a game of cornhole with your neighbors is like eating your broccoli, except more fun and more integral to your longevity.
So start tossing bags onto a board and if we are really lucky, into the hole!
Click here and sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date on everything cornhole in Europe and get access to the free lifetime library of cornhole resources including a Scandinavian Cornhole Cruise and 7 Steps to Throw Better Bags Backed by Science.
Connect socially with a friendly game of cornhole.
Let’s throw some bags!