As a species, we are social creatures. We have evolved and long thrived as part of familial and community groups. While some of us are more “social” than others, we all need a social life. Our social wellness involves our ability to connect and maintain positive relationships with others.
“Social wellness involves openly communicating needs, feelings, thoughts, and desires to those we trust, and actively listening with empathy when they share with us. It involves engaging in and enjoying positive interactions with people in work and leisure and building and maintaining friendships, intimate relationships, and professional connections.”
Friendship should be right up there with diet, physical activity, hydration, rest, intellectual stimulation and growth, spirituality, and stress management when we consider what contributes to comprehensive wellness.
In this day and age, with increased work hours, increased screen time and technology use, and the seemingly ever-increasing demands for our time and energy in all aspects of our lives, meaningful and deep friendships tend to sit on the back burner. The excuse is often “lack of time.”
Relationships, like other components of our lives, take time, energy, dedication, compassion, and love to develop and maintain. It is through these relationships though that our physical and emotional wellbeing, in particular, heavily rely on. It is believed and backed by quite a bit of scientific data that those who have healthy, positive, and supportive relationships are physically healthier and emotionally happier.
Leading an active social life doesn’t necessarily mean that you have dozens of friends, a calendar colored with parties and events, or even that you are engaging socially on a daily basis. The definition of a healthy and active social life is person-dependent. What’s important is that you have at least one person in your life that you can wholly depend on, confide in, lean on, and laugh uncontrollably with.
Our social wellness is dependent on give-and-take relationships, not one-sided ones. We need to build bonds with individuals, whether family or non-related, whom we feel we can be completely ourselves around. We need to feel connected through shared interests (sometimes singular), shared morals, and a shared commitment to honesty, trust, and support.
Don’t wait until you really need a friend to try and make one. If you feel that your social life is lacking, take charge in the same way that you would take charge of other dimensions of your wellness if they were lacking.
Remember, all seven components of your individual wellness are connected and dependent on one another. By improving your social wellness, you will in turn be improving other dimensions of your wellness.
Tips for social wellness:
- Join a gym, fitness class, yoga studio, or outdoor activity group.
- Volunteer doing something that you are passionate about.
- Attend a fundraising event and/or participate in fundraising for a cause you believe in.
- Set a weekly breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner, or cocktail date with a friend (new or old).
- Treat yourself to a retreat (yoga, paddle boarding, surfing, photography, hiking, or whatever you are interested in--there is a retreat for nearly every interest).
- Take your dog to the dog park or out and about with you more often (dogs are an excellent ice breaker for meeting new people who also love dogs).
- Pursue a hobby and take a class.
- Smile more.