The importance of socializing to our well-being is a bitter pill to swallow for many people, especially introverts. But the truth is, maintaining healthy social relationships is crucial for your well-being. In a way, social wellness should become an integral part of your self-care routine. Once you learn how to improve your social health, you will know how to communicate better, or how to cool off after a tough week. Imagine living with the certainty that someone will back you up in times of need. You can achieve all of this through social wellness. Read on to learn more about social health and its importance.
What is Social Health?
At first glance, the word “social” brings to mind parties and awkward business meetings. But it’s more than that. Social health refers to your ability to interact with others and form healthy interpersonal relationships. It also refers to how you carry and adapt yourself in social situations, maintain ties, balance time for yourself and others, respect and create boundaries, and have a network of people to rely on. While socializing is the act of interacting with all kinds of people, your social health is affected either positively or negatively by the people you socialize with and how frequently.
Learning how to improve your social health is a lifelong process. However, you can begin at any moment. You may be surprised to learn that the foundation of social health is taking care of yourself first. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself as you begin focusing on your social well-being, remember you can only interact well when you are feeling well.
- Practice self-care such as meditation and journaling.
- Find what makes you uncomfortable and draw boundaries.
- Take time out for your health.
- Avoid smoking.
- Eat well, and stay hydrated.
Here are a few more ways to start nurturing your social health:
- Reach out and stay active in your community. It’s the best way to build a network!
- Catch up with old friends and family. Sometimes people forget to be the first one to text or call. It’s alright to be the one to reach out, your friends and family want to hear from you.
- Be friendly and offer support to those who need it. Extend a hand before you are asked for it, and take the initiative instead of waiting for someone to do so first. Give gifts and be kind.
- Volunteer where you can and join groups where you can talk to like-minded people about your favorite hobbies. Social media is a great place to find these groups, but make sure to not get stuck behind the screen. Look for groups that offer in-person activities.
- Do not try to keep up with people who don’t want to keep up with you. Toxic social relationships will only drain you mentally. That’s not what we’re aiming for. Because in the end, these abusive relationships will hinder you from developing healthier ones.
- Work on your posture and improve your communication skills. Small gestures can make a big difference.
Why You Need to Stay Connected
Part of learning how to improve your social health is understanding the importance of staying connected. It is scientifically proven that social interactions actually reduce stress. When you meet up with your friends or family, you might’ve noticed you get a peculiar feeling as if you belong in that group of people. Enjoying the company of others is a beautiful phenomenon and is what keeps your stress hormones at bay. Furthermore, it can also improve your creativity, immunity, and productivity. You’ll also become a better listener and a better speaker.
Studies suggest that socialization helps you live longer. It reduces depression and keeps your mood elevated. For seniors, social wellness is extremely important as it can slow down aging and combat the harmful effects of loneliness. There is a close link between strong cardiovascular health and positive social relationships. Plus, your social health will also affect your mental health. Through relationships, you will learn how to cope with grief and negative thoughts. These thoughts, if left unchecked, could lead to depression, anxiety, and tension. But in order to deal with these stressors, you need to process them through acknowledging and verbalizing them to others. Your mental and emotional health will be strengthened as you speak openly with people you trust.
The path to social wellness is not a straight one. You will meet betrayal and grief quite often, and you’ll become a better person because of them. But it won’t completely be a bag full of disappointments. As you meet and talk to people, you will learn interesting stories, share heartwarming moments, and get the support and care you need. But the positive effects will only come if you put in the effort. You can learn all the tips on how to improve your social health and still not find fulfillment if you don’t act on them. So social wellness demands dedication and constant reflection.
Social Wellness and Social Anxiety
The inability to stay connected with your friends, family or other people may lead you to develop social anxiety. One symptom of bad social health is social anxiety. Social anxiety might be characterized by fear of interacting with others. People suffering from this disorder may express physical symptoms like sweating, stuttering, or shortness of breath during any interaction with people. Some causes of social may anxiety include:
- childhood trauma
- negative life experiences
- prolonged periods of isolation
- Isolation in childhood
- unaddressed mental health concerns
Social anxiety hinders the social wellness of a person to the point that they may cut off any connections they may have with others.
It is critical to treat social anxiety to improve social health. Otherwise, it may compound into more severe forms of depression, paranoia, or isolation. Healthy communication is the key to better social health. For that, you need to be aware of yourself first. Be an unfiltered version of yourself. Pay attention to what you eat. Exercise daily. Groom yourself. Try to be a little more helpful towards others. Indulge in positive thoughts.
If all this may sound a bit overwhelming, start small. Begin by improving your communication at your home or with those you have interactions with every day. Interact with your family members a little bit more. Be vocal about your needs. Talk about your interests with them and share your views on different topics. Lend a listening ear as they share their interests and stresses with you in return.
As you begin to branch outside of your home and inner circles, think about other easy ways to get out and see other people. Start taking short walks at the nearest park. Catch up with an old friend at your favorite coffee shop. Smile and greet a stranger on your way to work. There is no need to apply all of these at once. Try one every other day. Decreased social anxiety will amplify your social wellness, and spending time with social relationships is crucial for social wellness. But remember to create healthy boundaries. It will boost your self-esteem and help you keep a check on your social relationships. So take one step at a time.
Here is a short 8-minute video with three ways that you can beat social anxiety.
Social wellness is a person’s ability to interact with and adapt to their social environment. It’s linked to lower mortality, stronger cardiovascular health, and lower stress levels. So staying connected and maintaining good social relationships can benefit your physical and mental health. Learning how to improve your social health is thus easy and definitely worth it. However, if you suffer from social anxiety, you will have to toil a lot harder than others. But don’t let it hold you back from becoming socially healthy. It’s a battle worth fighting for.
* This post may contain affiliate links to the products and services that we talk about.