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Brits are famous for being reserved, but chatting with people we don’t know can leave us feeling happier, less stressed and inspired

Small talk isn’t just a little diversion from the tediousness of a commute or a way to avoid being the wallflower at a party. Did you know it could boost your intelligence and improve your mental and physical wellbeing?

‘On a basic level, it provides us with a connection to other humans, which helps to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol,’ says psychologist Portia Hickey. ‘Positive conversations with others, even strangers, can also release oxytocin in our brains, which helps us feel good and sleep better.’ Again, this hormone helps reduce stress – and let’s remember that, according to the latest statistics, stress accounts for 45 per cent of all working days lost to ill health, and can impair memory function.

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About Healthy Magazine

Brush up on your #superfoodgoals with our March/April issue of healthy, which explores the truth behind the nutrition buzzword. Get cooking with our round-up of 25 delicious recipes, including chia, matcha and chocolate (yes, really!) based meals. Get to know Darcey Bussell and Lorraine Kelly in our exclusive interviews. Plus, be inspired by our 101 simple ideas on how to change your life now, including how a daily ritual can help you beat stress. Stay grounded with the new digital edition of healthy.