Amy Eksteen

Wellness Series Part 3

Last week we explored the concept of Emotional Wellness, why it is important for us, the benefits that can stem from learning about our emotional well-being and how to start prioritising our emotional health in our personal self-care plans.

This week we will be discussing part 3 of our Wellness series which will focus on our Social Wellness dimension.

Social wellness focuses on our relationships and how we interact with one another (UCDavis).

With that being said, prioritising our social wellness is not only about focusing on others and our connections with them, as it first and foremost includes looking after ourselves and our well-being (OPI: Optimum Performance Institute).

Our social wellness mainly gives us the chance to form a sense of connection and a sense of belonging through positive interpersonal relationships (Iowa State University: student wellness).

Prioritising our social well-being is about building healthy, supportive and encouraging relationships, while we foster genuine connections with others. It is also about learning how to balance our needs in romantic relationships with the needs in our personal lives (UCDavis).

Social wellness enables us to create boundaries that encourage good communication, trust and conflict management, especially in intimate relationships, therefore relating directly to our other wellness dimensions such as our emotional wellness. This helps us to recognise that we have the ability to influence and be influenced by our personal relationships. Looking after our social well-being highlights our responsibility to learn skills that can benefit our connections with others. After all, having healthy social networks allows us to develop skills that can teach us to be comfortable with who we are in any social situation, therefore increasing our self-esteems and/or confidence at the same time (UCDavis).

Prioritising our social relationships is important because they can help us through difficult times – increasing our resilient qualities in the process (UCdavis).

6 ways to improve your social health:

  1. Connect with others – social networking has the ability to affect our bodies, mental health and overall well-being
  2. Take care of yourself first – choose self-care strategies that realistically work for you while you prioritise time to be with and look after those around you
  3. Get active together – this will have benefits for your health and allow you to make connections with others in the process
  4. Bond with your children – this will help build strong emotional bonds between family members and help your children develop resilient skills and self-awareness
  5. Build healthy relationships – relationships have the ability to affect your mental and physical health, therefore learning the skills regarding how to build and maintain positive relationships is important (for example, good communication and conflict management skills)
  6. Shape your family’s health habits – especially for children, developing healthy eating and physical habits can positively influence behaviour and overall well-being (National Institutes of Health, 2018).

Social wellness encourages us to make choices that grow meaningful relationships with family, friends and even colleagues (Iowa State University: student wellness).

Our social health teaches us to openly communicate our needs, feelings, thoughts and desires to those we trust, while we actively listen and respond with empathy. It therefore helps to build and maintain meaningful friendships, intimate relationships and even professional connections (OPI: Optimum Performance Institute).

Our social dimension of wellness also encourages us to live in peace with those around us (Iowa State University: student wellness). It promotes interconnection and helps to facilitate an understanding as to how our actions affect others, our environment and our surrounding community. Social wellness therefore includes showing respect to others, ourselves and other cultures/belief systems (Iowa State University: student wellness).

As we value our personal connections, we are also given the opportunity to care about and contribute positively towards the greater good of society (OPI: Optimum Performance Institute).

10 ways to prioritise your social wellness in your personal self-care plan:

  1. Join a gym, yoga class or any exercise group
  2. Join a bible study/prayer group
  3. Find a way to share/do your hobbies with others like joining a cooking class
  4. Join a study group/support group
  5. Volunteer or do community work
  6. Plan time to check in or meet up with friends/loved ones that are important to you
  7. Set up a date night with your significant other with no phones allowed and reflect on your day/week
  8. Contact an old friend from school or university and catch up
  9. Ensure the people/accounts you follow and who follows you on social media are positive and encouraging
  10. Set time aside to spend time with your children/your family as a whole – this could include doing something fun outdoors (OPI: Optimum Performance Institute).

We prioritise our social wellness needs because relationships with others can offer support during difficult times, therefore acting as a form of protection from difficult circumstances (AdvantageCare Health Centers, 2018 and BrainForest).

People who look after their social health have increased health benefits. Studies show that they might even live longer since social isolation or having few/unhealthy social connections has the ability to affect one’s overall health (AdvantageCare Health Centers, 2018).

The health risks of isolation can even be compared to problems associated with smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. A strong social network can be linked to a healthier endocrine system and cardiovascular functioning. A healthy social life can also boost the immune system’s ability to fight off infections/diseases. This is because people who have positive relationships with others are able to respond better to and cope better with stress (AdvantageCare Health Centers, 2018).

We need to take care of our social wellness since positive social habits/behaviours can help us to build long lasting support systems that can positively affect our overall health and life experiences (National Institutes of Health, 2018).

Signs of Social Wellness:

  • Assertiveness
  • Balancing social and personal time
  • Being comfortable with who you are in all situations
  • Being involved and connected to other people in your community
  • Valuing diversity and respect
  • Being able to develop and maintain healthy friendships and social connections
  • The ability to create boundaries within relationships
  • Remembering to have fun and prioritising time to relax
  • Having a supportive social network of family and friends (University of New Hampshire: Health and wellness).

Social wellness self-care goal setting: Think of one main, long-term goal you would like to focus on in your personal self-care plan. For example: You realise that you have a stressful month ahead of you, therefore you are aware that you are going to be needing extra support. Your goal might be to “feel more connected to my friends and family during this month”
Think of two short-term goals/acts of self-care that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life in order to reach your main goal. For example: “I choose to meet up with a group of friends to talk and relax once a week and call/spend time with my loved ones twice a week”

Social Wellness challenge for the week:

  • Monday: Spend 10 minutes reflecting on what kind of accounts/things you watch on social media to assess if they are more positive than negative
  • Tuesday: Spend some time talking to a friend
  • Wednesday: Cook and eat dinner with your family
  • Thursday: Spend some quality time with your child or loved one (it could even be your pet/s)
  • Friday: Spend some uninterrupted time with your significant other or by yourself doing something that you love to do
  • Saturday: Get some friends together, do a park run, go for a walk on the beach or do something together that you will all enjoy doing
  • Sunday: Write a letter to yourself in 10 years time or write a short, encouraging letter to someone that you care about

Self-reflection Questions:

  • What did I just read about?
  • Do I feel as if I am currently looking after my social wellness?
  • Do I feel as if I make friends easily?
  • Do my current relationships make me feel good about myself?
  • Did I learn anything from this blog post?
  • Do I feel as if I have a strong, trustworthy and supportive social circle/group of people I can turn to if I need them?
  • Do I spend enough time with my family?
  • Am I able to communicate my thoughts, emotions/feelings in a healthy way?
  • Do I feel as if I have healthy conflict management skills?
  • How does this blog post make me feel?
  • Would I consider myself to be a confident person in social situations?
  • Am I able to reach out and ask for help when I need it?
  • Am I able to be assertive and say “no”?
  • How much of my time during my week do I spend with people that I have a genuine connection with?
  • How can I begin to incorporate my social wellness into my personal self-care plan?
  • What can I keep in mind for the future from this blog post?

I would like to end off this week’s blog post by reminding my readers that one of the ultimate forms of self-care that can contribute to our overall sense of well-being, but especially our social wellness is reaching out for help when we don’t feel like we are coping. This can be in the form of turning to an authority figure like a teacher/lecturer for help as well as a friend/family member that we trust and are comfortable talking to and it can also be in the form of attending counselling and speaking to a counsellor.

I hope that you enjoyed discussing the concept of social wellness this week. Next week we will be learning about the fourth dimension in our wellness series, which is our Environmental Wellness!

All my love xx

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