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Year of Wellness: Finding Balance in Social Wellness

Top 5 Tips for Enhanced Social Wellness

Want a 50% greater chance of a longer, healthier life? Develop a more positive relationship with your social wellness. Studies show a significant decrease in heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression, and anxiety among other conditions for those who have abundant healthy social connections.1

So, now that we know the benefits, what even is social wellness? What does it encompass? And, how do I build and maintain these healthy social connections? Below, we will answer all of those questions and more.

As a note: The content of this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet, exercise, medication, or other health-related routines.

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What is Social Wellness?

Social wellness involves building and maintaining positive relationships with yourself and others, fostering a sense of belonging and connection. It goes beyond the number of friends or followers you have; it’s about the quality of those connections.

Surround yourself with individuals who uplift and support you. As mentioned above, numerous studies show that strong social ties are linked to better mental health, improved immune function, and even increased lifespan. So, let’s explore how to find and enrich these connections and enhance our social well-being.

1. Seek connections through shared interests and new experiences

Consider joining clubs, classes, or online communities aligned with your interests. Engaging in activities you love not only connects you with like-minded individuals but also provides a natural and authentic way to build lasting friendships. Not sure where to start? Facebook has endless groups and event options. Interested in gardening? There are groups for that. Do you want to find people to talk about books or play board games? There are events for almost anything you could imagine.

Try to make an effort to introduce yourself and make connections with multiple people during these events or in these groups. If this sounds uncomfortable (I know it does for me), ask a friend or family member to join you so you have someone of comfort or familiarity while you navigate something new. Try to engage with people a few times before you make a judgment on them. We can sometimes mistake unfamiliarity with negative feelings and may misinterpret that as not connecting with someone. Studies show that the more we spend time with people, the more we tend to like them due to something called the proximity principle2. With that being said, if someone isn’t bringing out the best parts of you, it is okay to spend more time fostering connections with those who do.

2. Be of service to others

Whether it is volunteering, helping a friend out, or doing a random act of kindness for a stranger, the benefits are unmatched. First off, you are helping others, which is beautiful in itself. But, did you know that these acts are shown to have positive physical and mental health benefits for yourself as well? The benefits range from improved mood, to lower risk of cardiovascular issues.3

Taking time to be of service to others also helps to build and strengthen connections. You also see improvement in many positive qualities and skills, such as empathy, that are important for healthy relationships. Furthermore, you show others how to be kind to themselves, you, and others.

3. Have regular relationship check-ins and impactful conversations

Effective communication is essential for any healthy relationship. Practice active listening by fully engaging in conversations, asking open-ended questions, and showing genuine interest. On a night out, whether it’s a Valentine’s Day dinner or a casual gathering, make a conscious effort to put away distractions and focus on the person in front of you. Genuine conversations build stronger connections and contribute to a more satisfying social life.

For those closest to you, like a partner or those in your household, schedule relationship check-ins. Schedule these check-ins in regular intervals and ask intentional questions such as how to better support each other. And, don’t forget to show them your gratitude. These check-ins help to ensure things do not get missed or miscommunicated. Carving out that time also ensures that connection is still being had, even when we are busy, or get absorbed in the monotony of the day-to-day.

4. Opt for more alcohol-free activities

Alcohol-free activities not only promote better physical wellness but also enhance social well-being. Alcohol can sometimes act as a social lubricant, but it’s not a prerequisite for a good time. In fact, choosing alcohol-free options can lead to more authentic connections. Drinking alcohol reduces impulse control, can impair your memory, and can cause shifts in mood, all of which can impact the building and maintaining healthy connections. Alcohol can seem to help you feel less anxious but actually increases levels of anxiety and rates of mental health issues.4 

Explore local events and locations that don’t revolve around alcohol, such as live performances, parks, or fitness classes. Or, if you find yourself in situations where alcohol is present, opt for an alternative beverage to alcohol. Check out my top non-alcoholic drink options!

If you do choose to drink in a social setting, try to limit your consumption and be intentional with what you consume. If this is hard for you like it is for me, opt for an accountability partner and set your intentions earlier in the night. For example, I may tell someone I am with that I intend on having 2 drinks for the entire night and I will consume no more than 1 drink per hour and will alternate alcohol and water. I find that I hold myself accountable more if I speak my intentions out loud and have someone to help remind me if needed.

5. Prioritize Self-Care

Although this is often overlooked when thinking about fostering healthy relationships, social wellness starts with self-care. Recognize the importance of taking time for yourself, and nurturing your mental and emotional well-being. Schedule moments of solitude, engage in activities that bring you joy and set healthy boundaries. Research indicates that individuals who prioritize self-care are better equipped to form and sustain meaningful connections. There is a wealth of physical and mental health benefits as well.5 

Incorporate self-care practices into your routine. Whether it’s a relaxing bath, a nature walk, or meditation. Dedicating time to recharge allows you to show up more authentically in your social interactions. When you learn how to best care for yourself, you can show others how to best care for you and you can better be there for others. 

We take a deeper dive into this topic in my post, Top Self-Care Tips for Boosting Your Wellness, as well as in The Ultimate Self-Care Toolbox: My Top 10 Essentials. We will look at what exactly self-care entails, what all the benefits are, self-care ideas, and how to best incorporate it into your routine.

Conclusion

Social wellness plays a key role in your overall wellness. By implementing the above tips, you’ll not only strengthen existing relationships but also open the door to new, meaningful connections. Remember, social wellness is an ongoing journey. Each step you take contributes to a more fulfilling and balanced life.

What are you excited to try after reading this today? Share your ideas and shout out someone you’re looking to continue to build a healthy relationship with. Reach out to them today to express your gratitude! And, if no one has told you today, I appreciate you and hope you have the most beautiful day!

  1. CDC. “How Does Social Connectedness Affect Health?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Mar. 2023, www.cdc.gov/emotional-wellbeing/social-connectedness/affect-health.htm. ↩︎
  2. “Close Proximity and Relationships | Applied Social Psychology (ASP).” Sites.psu.edu, 14 Apr. 2014, sites.psu.edu/aspsy/2014/04/14/close-proximity-and-relationships/. ↩︎
  3. Abrams, Zara. “The Case for Kindness.” Apa.org, 2021, www.apa.org/news/apa/kindness-mental-health. ↩︎
  4. Centers for disease control and prevention. “Alcohol Use and Your Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 29 Dec. 2021, www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. ↩︎
  5. Mental Health First Aid USA. “How and Why to Practice Self-Care.” Mental Health First Aid, 14 Mar. 2022, www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2022/03/how-and-why-to-practice-self-care/. ↩︎

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