Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! This week, let’s take a look at the Social dimension of wellness.
What Is The Social Dimension Of Wellness?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (authors of the wellness wheel pictured above) define social wellness as, “developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system.
The University of California, Riverside adds that it “refers to one’s ability to interact with people around them. It involves using good communications skills, having meaningful relationships, respecting yourself and others, and creating a support system that includes family members and friends.”
Why Is It Important?
Sometimes we tend to undervalue the social dimension of wellness, but it’s critical to our overall wellness. We don’t exist in a vacuum, and we have to depend on others in some capacity pretty much every day. Good communication skills. treating others with respect, and forming meaningful relationships are key to optimal wellness.
Relationships are work, there’s no doubt about that, but we are social creatures, and we are much better together than we are in isolation.
When I worked with weight-loss clients, one of the key predictors of success was whether they had a supportive social network (family and friends). If they had no outside support, they were not as likely to succeed with their weight-loss goals. That’s not to say they couldn’t succeed, but the success rate was much higher for people who had a support system in place.
Building a support system for ourselves and being part of a support system for others can help us live a healthier, more fulfilling, and possibly longer life.
How Do We Improve Our Social Wellness?
So what are some ways we can improve our social wellness?
- Intentionally plan time with family and friends. How many times have you said, “Let’s go out for coffee sometime” and never followed through with it? I know I’ve been guilty of that many times. In fact, my friend and I just went for coffee this morning after saying that for about two months. We really did want to get together, but because we weren’t intentional about setting a date, it took us forever to get around to it.
- Join groups who are engaged in an activity or cause you enjoy or believe in. Getting involved with people who are passionate about the same thing you are can be a springboard to developing lifelong friendships and widen your social circle. I realize that for those of us who live with chronic illness, participating in some things may be difficult, but with social media, we’re able to become involved in causes and groups that wouldn’t have been accessible to us just a few years ago.
- Surround yourself with positive people. This doesn’t mean that everything needs to be “glitter and unicorns,” but it does mean surrounding yourself with people who generally have a positive outlook on life, who can help you see the good in other people and situations, who lift you up when you’re feeling down, and allow you to do the same for them.
- Treat others with respect and expect the same from them. Just because we don’t agree with people, that doesn’t mean we can’t treat them with respect. As I mentioned in my post on Monday, I spent some time quite frustrated when we had houseguests recently, but whenever I was tempted to snap at someone or say something harsh, I asked myself if that was how I would want someone to speak to my Mom. That shut my mouth pretty quickly. By the same token, we can’t allow others to speak disrespectfully to us. If we don’t learn to communicate with respect, we can’t truly build a positive relationship.
For some other ways to improve social wellness, please check out the Social Wellness Toolkit provided by the National Institutes of Health. They have some great tips, including specific suggestions for improving your social wellness. Be sure to click on “flip” at the bottom of each section to see those specific actions you can take.
How’s your social wellness? Do you have any suggestions for improving this dimension? Please share!