5 Ways to Cultivate Social Wellness in Your Life
Part 4: Social Wellness
These days, it seems like many people's idea of "socializing" is staring at a phone screen and scrolling through social media feeds. In fact, according to DigitalMarketing.org, the average American spends more than two hours on social media each day.
But what if you're looking to reach a deeper sense of social engagement—one that goes beyond "likes" and "reacts" on a screen? What if you want to nurture your own relationships, connect with others, and get to know yourself better in the process?
If so, then it's time to focus on your own social wellness, which is one of the seven key dimensions of overall wellness.
7 Dimensions of Wellness
There are seven dimensions of wellness in a person's life:
- Emotional Wellness
- Spiritual Wellness
- Social Wellness
- Physical Wellness
- Intellectual Wellness
- Environmental Wellness
- Occupational Wellness
In a perfect world, you'd be able to strike a balance of all seven of these pillars. In reality, trying to maintain perfect equilibrium is an impossible juggling act. Still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to achieve that balance; the more in-tune you are with each aspect of your overall wellness, the happier you'll be.
The goal of this post, then, is to help you focus on one of these dimensions: social wellness. By having a better understanding of what social wellness entails, why social wellness matters, and how to improve your own social wellness, you can take measures to enhance your own life.
What is Social Wellness?
According to the University of New Hampshire, achieving social wellness means "having positive connections with friends, family, [...] and anyone else." This involves not just maintaining healthy relationships with others, but being able to effectively communicate, problem-solve, and treat other people with respect.
The idea here is that by having healthy relationships with other people, you can actually improve your own overall health and wellness. That's because studies have found that people with a strong network of friends and loved ones tend to experience less stress and anxiety, have healthier immune systems, and actually live longer lives. Meanwhile, being surrounded by a great social network (and not just the ones you have online) can help you boost your own self-esteem and confidence.
Now that you have a better understanding of what social wellness is and why it matters, what are some proactive steps you can take to enhance your own social wellness? We've got some tips for you!
5 Tips to Improve Your Social Wellness
1) Focus on Friendships
Start by taking inventory of the current friendships and relationships in your life. Which are the most meaningful to you? Which could use some nurturing? Taking the time to carefully assess each of your personal relationships may seem like a daunting task, but it's important for getting a better idea of where you stand in terms of your current social wellness.
As you assess your current relationships, you'll likely find that there are one (or several) that are the most meaningful to you. These may include a romantic relationship with a significant other, platonic relationships with close friends, and relationships with family members.
Likewise, you may also notice that there are some relationships that aren't as strong as they once were (for whatever reason that may be). Now, it's time to ask yourself whether you want to put any more effort into maintaining these relationships or simply accept that they have run their course. While it may seem counterintuitive to "cut off" friendships as a means of improving your social wellness, letting go of relationships that are no longer meaningful can help you focus more of your energy on the relationships that matter most.
2) Take Up a New Hobby
If you're looking to grow your social circle, one of the best ways to do this is to take up a new hobby. No matter what you're into, there's a very good chance that there are other people interested in the same thing. You might even be able to find a local group that meets to engage in that hobby together, which presents a great opportunity to strike up some new friendships and grow your social circle.
For example, if you enjoy running, why not see about joining a local running group? This can provide you an excellent outlet to meet some new like-minded people while also saving you from having to run alone! By sharing your hobbies with other people, you can make new connections and enhance your sense of social wellness.
Likewise, if you enjoy practicing yoga in the comfort of your own home, consider taking a leap and signing up for a yoga class. Not only can an in-person class help you perfect your form in that lotus pose—but there's a good chance you'll make some new friends and grow your social circle in the process.
3) Volunteer Your Time
In addition to taking up a new hobby, volunteering can be another way to meet new people and exercise your social muscles. From volunteering at a soup kitchen to spending time at a local pet shelter, donating your time and services will not only enhance your social wellness, but your emotional wellness at the same time. Meanwhile, you'll get to enjoy that warm, fuzzy feeling in knowing that you are doing your part to help the greater good.
4) Take Commitments Seriously
One common mistake that even the most well-meaning people can make when trying to enhance their social wellness is spreading themselves too thin. With this in mind, then, make sure that you're being realistic about your own social commitments and that you're not overwhelming yourself. The last thing you need is to find yourself feeling stressed out in other areas of your life because you're trying too hard to make new friends or maintain existing relationships.
By knowing yourself and how much time you can realistically commit to working on your social wellness each week, you can avoid spreading yourself too thin and having to cancel plans. If you aren't doing so already, consider using a planner or self-care journal to write down your commitments and make sure you're still taking care of other aspects of your well-being.
5) Spend Time With a Pet (Seriously!)
While there's no denying the importance of meaningful relationships with other humans, the reality is that spending time with your pets or other furry friends can be just as nurturing to your social wellness. If you have pets at home, set aside some dedicated time to connect with them; this may mean taking your dog for a walk (also an opportunity to meet new people!) or even snuggling up on the couch with your cat.
If you don't already have a pet, consider whether now may be a good time to adopt one. You might be surprised at how much bringing a dog into your home can encourage you to get out, stay active, and even meet new people who are also dog owners.
The Bottom Line on Social Wellness
As you can see, there's a lot more to social wellness than having friends on Facebook or followers on Instagram. What really defines social wellness is having meaningful and healthy relationships with the people in your life, as well as being able to effectively communicate with these people.
From taking up new hobbies and volunteering your time to taking inventory of existing relationships, there are plenty of practical steps you can take to enhance your social wellness.
Just like any other aspect of wellness, cultivating a stronger sense of social wellness is something that will take a conscious effort and lots of energy on your part. However, being able to reap the rewards is more than worth it.
So...get to building and strengthening your social circle and see just how much of an impact this can have on your life! And remember, when you're living your life in full bloom, anything is possible.