Posts for tag: Relationships
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.
Way #5: “Social relationships are key to joy. Don’t isolate yourself. Human contact is a powerful healer and joy creator. The World Health Organization states that, “social connections are more healing than most advanced pharmaceuticals. The key to happiness is to slow down and connect.” It releases a flood of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, which creates joy. Studies show that people who are socially isolated have an excess of stress hormones, predisposing them to depression and anxiety. Those with strong social ties have lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and higher levels of oxytocin, which is associated with good physical and emotional health and the ability to cope well with stress. Studies show that having good social relationships is one of the biggest predictors of joy. Cultivate and nurture relationships.”- Hana Matt
As we mature, it is wise to realize that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to relationships. There are different types of relationships that we will find ourselves in and out of during the span of our lives. Each relationship carries its own title and significance in the catalog of our life. Relationships also bring valuable and necessary life lessons, on both the positive and negative spectrum of life events. We learn how to communicate, listen, compromise, share, trust, support, love, and laugh through our positive relationships. We learn little by little what we don’t want and don’t deserve (distrust, infidelity, insensitivity, lack of communication, egoism, shallowness, etc.) through the negative relationships.
What is truly important though is that we continue to HAVE relationships. As humans, we are innately social beings. Some people are more social and extroverted, while others are less social and more introverted, but regardless everyone needs someone (a partner, a friend, a sibling, a pet). Our happiness depends on our ability to connect with people, our environment, and ourselves.
As Hana Matt stated above, it is proven that social interactions increase the release of our joy hormones. Part of our life experience is sharing our experiences with others. It is elemental that we want to share the good things in our lives with those whom we have a connection. It is also intrinsic that we want and need someone to be there with us during times of despair, depression, angst, and anger. Life is too heavy to run through it alone. Life is too wonderful to do it on your own.
The point is, take the time to nurture the relationships that you have been blessed with and cultivate new ones as you see fit. Surrounding yourself with positive, fun, supportive, loving, inspiring, and caring people is a win-win situation for everyone. A relationship is two-sided and each participating party must contribute 100%, 100% of the time. It is not about how many relationships you have. It’s about making the ones that are truly worth it count. We need each other; our joy depends upon it.
Be kind. Keep your heart open. Never stop being you. The people who should be in your life are the ones that accept and love you for who you are. Find joy in each other and in yourself.
Thanks for sharing a smile with us this week.