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"We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as a result of others' actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment in our lives when we do not benefit from others' activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others." ~ Dalai Lama XIV

What is Social Wellness?

According to SAMHSA, social wellness is developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system.

Why is Social Wellness Important?

Whether we're an introvert with a few close friends or an extrovert with a social circle the size of a small country, we are social creatures and need to connect with other people. Social wellness focuses on developing and maintaining healthy relationships with friends, family, and members of our community. But this will look different for everyone.  Connections could be the embrace of a loved one. Coffee with friends. A zoom call with a sibling. A yoga class with strangers (or future friends).

Research has shown that individuals with a healthy social network tend to live longer, benefits linked to more robust immune systems (ability to fight off infectious diseases), lower blood pressure (better response to stress), and improved cardiovascular health.

Neurologists have also determined that healthy social connections can trigger neuron stimulation in our brains that correlates to positive emotions - happiness, compassion, and contentment.

Knowing that someone cares about us, and having mutual respect for others, encourages the continued development of healthy relationships. These connections can increase our self-esteem and lead to a sense of belonging and bonding within these networks. Having others in our life that share our values and beliefs also helps develop emotional resilience and promotes a sense of purpose.

How Do We Foster Healthy Relationships?

Healthy relationships require trust, open communication, mutual respect, compromise, and commitment. People shouldn't make us feel drained of energy or increase our stress levels consistently. If we have someone like this in our life ~ showing constant manipulation or abuse of power over us~ we may need to consider removing ourselves from that relationship. There is no shame in walking away from someone that is not good for us.

I'm not saying that relationships are always easy. They require active participation and care by both parties to grow and thrive. Some of the most common habits to help nurture a relationship are:

  • Listening - take time to listen to the other person actively. Be present at the moment. Listen to understand what the other person is going through or sharing, don't just listen to respond.

  • Being honest (keep promises) - honesty and trust are two essential traits of a healthy relationship. It gives the other person hope and confidence and tells them they can rely on you.  Without honesty and trust, the relationship will wither.

  • Expressing compassion and gratitude - being able to sympathize with others can lead to improved engagement and communication. Causing us to feel more invested in the friendship.

  • Providing support - helping fulfill the needs of others and meeting them where they are is essential. Connecting with others during life's moments (celebrating a joyous occasion, providing a meal during a hard time, etc.) can lead to stronger relationships.

  • Time - spending time with friends and family lets them know that they're a priority in our life. And who doesn't like to feel important? Quality time could be lunch with a friend, coffee with a family member, a hike with a coworker.

Healthy Social Connections Can Reduce Stress & Anxiety

Did you know that isolation can provoke conditions like depression and loneliness and can increase our anxiety levels? These conditions often lead to further withdrawal, which can cause us to become even more depressed and feel lonelier. It is crucial when we begin to notice this to reach out and engage in activities that help us connect with others. Having an established social network in place (before we have these moments) to support us through difficult times is crucial.

Ways To Find Connections

It's not always easy to make new friends, especially as adults. Flashbacks from middle school - walking into the wrong class, the joke that nobody got, and then there's the feared awkward silence. But we're not in middle school anymore, and there's hope. Here are a couple of ways you can meet new people.

  • House of Worship - join a community of individuals with shared religious beliefs or practices and ideologies.

  • Volunteer - join others to participate in an activity or service that aims to benefit the environment or a specific group.

  • Interest Group - identify a passion or interest and join a group of like-minded individuals.

There's no hiding from it. We are social beings, and we need to be in relationships with others to thrive. It's not always easy, and it takes time and effort to nurture and grow these relationships.  Social connections can also help banish loneliness and encourage engagement, happiness, and confidence. So, take a chance, meet someone new, reconnect with an old friend, spend some time with family. It's worth it, and healthy connections can lead to a longer, healthier life.

Questions to Guide Your Social Wellness:

  1. Do you have a healthy approach to resolving conflicts in all areas of your life?

  2. Are you considerate of other people's feelings?

  3. Are you able to establish healthy boundaries?

  4. Do you maintain a network of supportive friends, family, and social contacts?

  5. Do you have at least one meaningful relationship in your life, someone you can share your feelings and struggles with?

  6. Are you open to meeting people from different backgrounds and accepting the diversity of others (race, ethnicity, religion, gender, ability, sexual orientation, etc.)?

  7. Are you taking the time to nurture your relationships?

  8. Do you give and take equally in your relationships?

If you start exploring social wellness and find yourself struggling with a sense of belonging or finding the energy to engage socially, please follow the link to talk more about how I can support you on this journey. WovenGrace Wellness.

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