Updated: May 22
Humans in general are social creatures. From infancy onward we learn how to interact with others, express our needs, and express our personality. Stress is one of the most common causes of illness. Social wellness is the ability to have a strong social network that can give us support and guidance when we are stressed. It is our ability to balance the care of others while also taking care of ourselves.
There are many signs that we are functioning well socially. This can be reflected in our ability to be assertive, balance social time with personal time, show up authentically, maintain boundaries, ask for help when needed, and maintain and develop friendships and social networks. With this of course, the opposite is true. When we do not maintain social wellness we tend to be more passive and not share our feelings openly, overly focus on work and neglect scheduling personal pursuits, act more critical and judgmental of others, have difficulty balancing social and personal time, both feel and act as if we must accomplish everything on our own, and neglect friendships and neglect networking.
7 Tips to Improve Social Wellness
Social wellness includes the balance of the self with others. In order to implement any time of wellness program to strengthen our social wellbeing, we must first get clear about ourselves and how we approach relationships. We have to get clear on our vision of our perfect social life, how we would incorporate rest, and how we communicate with others.
We wear many hats in society. We are wives, mothers, and sisters. Or we are husbands, fathers, and brothers. In these roles, we get caught up in the constant race of doing for other people. However, in order for us to be the best we can socially, we have to know when to step back and recharge our own batteries. When nothing sounds fun anymore. When all we want to do is eat or sleep. When we find ourselves stressing the little things. When we find ourselves snapping at loved ones. When we find ourselves hiding away from the world. These are all signs that we are at risk of being burnt out and need to pull back and focus on ourselves. Rejuvenation doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. When our battery meter has run low, a quick walk, a hot bath or shower, a good book, cranking up your favorite song playlist, or enjoying your favorite scented candle can be the ticket.
Get to Know Yourself
We cannot get to a place of peace and happiness without knowing ourselves. This isn't just knowing our favorite book, or favorite song, or favorite color even. Knowing ourselves means knowing who we are at our own core; knowing what things we value. We have to get a firm grip on what nourishes our spirit and what drains our soul. Knowing ourselves allows us to show up authentically and live in alignment. Journaling exercises can help us identify the answers to questions such as: What is something you love doing even when you are tired or feeling rushed? What things in your life bring you a sense of pride? What is your legacy? What is the legacy you are leaving behind? How confident are you in your abilities? What are your self-limiting beliefs? What do you fear about leaving a bad job? A bad relationship?
Get Proper Nutrition and Rest
We discussed this together in my previous article, "Dimensions of Wellness: Physical Wellness," and it is worth mentioning here again. Eating properly helps maintain our energy levels, fights illness, and boosts our immunity. Sleep supports the healthy functioning of our brains. The restoration process that occurs during sleep helps support positive moods, increasing our focus, and helps us feel refreshed. Basically, when we eat healthily and get proper sleep, we feel better and show up as our best selves when interacting with others.
Supports, Use Them
You aren't a mind reader. (However, if you are, I need help with picking a few numbers if you know what I mean.) All joking aside, you aren't a mind reader, and neither are your friends and family. As much as we wish people would just automatically know what we need, it just doesn't work out that way. Consider discussing your goals, needs, and plans with a close friend. You have to let your village know what it is that you would like and need help or support with. Similarly, you are not superhuman. There are times your energy, both physically and mentally, will become depleted. There are times when you will not have the solution to a problem due to circumstance or lack the know-how. However, someone in your support network may have the keys to unlock solution you have been looking for.
Supports are also good for fun. When you take up a new hobby, start a wellness regimen or program, it can make your experience more enjoyable to have likeminded individuals come along side you for the journey. This may be your friends or family, or other people in your local community. Support groups can be found through community resources such as the local library or local community center. You can also find them on social media outlets such as Facebook or Meetup.com . Just be sure to exercise caution and do proper vetting with meeting people online.
For your listening pleasure, I have included Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band's 1970 signature song, "Express Yourself" here because why not? It's nostalgic. It's catchy. It's fun.
Back to our article. Expectations around what was proper and acceptable have prevented a lot of us from stepping into our true selves to express our authenticity. However, we cannot have social wellness without the ability to effectively communicate and be assertive regarding our personal rights and feelings. Assertiveness is when we are able to stand up for our rights in such a way that the rights of others are not violated. So how to do it? One way to do so is to utilize "I Statements." Using an "I Statement" helps us clearly explain to others what we are thinking and feeling without sounding like we are blaming or accusing them. In order to feel confident in doing so, we can rehearse and practice what we want to say. Being able to be ourselves and express ourselves reduces our stress by bringing a sense of relief and calm.
Let It Go
Identify toxic relationships and then do like the song says, "Let It Go." Now to be honest it is a challenge to let go of relationships that no longer serve us well often because of our love or our attachment to the person. Now at some point, we all have negative emotions around the ones we love. No one makes everyone happy at all times. However, it is more than just those temporary moments of anger or sadness. Any relationship that evokes a consistent, negative feeling needs to be re-evaluated closely. If you find you are feeling bad about the relationship all of the time, honey, it is time to let it go. If you find you are unable to communicate your needs, the person is not showing any effort, the person is unwilling to compromise, there is any physical or mental abuse, or there is a lack of privacy or trust, it is time to let it go. Once identified, don't take on all the blame. Learn the lesson and cut them off entirely. Do not call or text to check up on them. Stay off of their social media. Put some distance between you and the person and give yourself permission to grieve the loss. Removing the ones who don't mean us well, leaves more room and time to attend to those who do appreciate and value us.
No is a complete sentence. It feels icky and uncomfortable. We all struggle saying no to friends and loved ones because we all fall victim to what Oprah once described as, "The disease to please." And it truly is a disease. How so? When we say yes to the things we really don't want to do or can't really afford to do, it often times leaves us feeling angry and resentful towards the asker even if they have not done anything wrong to us. Taking on responsibilities that weren't ours to begin with can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It also can lead to us being more critical of ourselves.
What is needed is for us to challenge the limiting beliefs that saying no is rude or selfish. We also have to relinquish the fear that saying no will cause others to become upset with us or dislike us. Saying no is not rude and is not a rejection of the person. It is a rejection of their request. We have the right to differing opinions and just as they have the right to ask, we have the right to decline. When we say yes to the things we don't like or care to do, we are in turn say no to the things that are important to us.
Social wellness helps make tough times in our lives easier. Having positive social habits enable us to build support systems that help us lead healthier lives both mentally and physically. I hope in reviewing this article, you have found something useful. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Sharing and using your voice in this way can be one form of exercising your social wellness. And remember, wherever you are on this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate." ~Linda Grayson
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