Only a few more days of Wellness Month! How has it been going so far? I hope you are feeling healthier and in a better mood. This week we are going to discuss Social Wellness and how positive and meaningful social relationships (whether in-person, by video, or by phone) promote your mental health.
~ 🙂 Candace
Humans are known to be social creatures, and one reason for this is because it is beneficial for survival. For example, together we can fight off an intruder (whether man or beast), OR while one member of the group hunts for food, another protects the children. However, pragmatics are not the only reason social wellbeing is important.
Social isolation. loneliness, and lack of positive social interactions can negatively impact our physical, emotional, and mental health regardless of whether or not a threat or intruder is present. Research shows that loneliness and isolation negatively impact our quality and quantity of life.
Instinctually, the stress (fight or flight) response is activated when we spend too much time alone. The isolated person may tend to be more diligent to keep watch and be safe, which triggers an increase in stress hormones like cortisol. Even people who value spending time alone benefit from positive connections with others (even if they may prefer shorter durations of time or smaller groups).
Friendship, laughter, good conversation, and other meaningful and positive supportive connections with people (and pets) increases happiness chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins.
INCREASE YOUR SOCIAL WELLNESS:
- Set aside time every week to spend with an important relationship in your life.
- Validate and support another's feelings, hopes and dreams.
- Accept others for who they are. Be supportive by focusing on the positives in a relationship or situation.
- When necessary, take responsibility for your part in any breakdown in a relationship.
- Show appreciation in verbal and nonverbal ways.
- Avoid jumping to conclusions. Instead be open and curious about the other’s perspective. Try to get a full understanding of the whole picture.
- Treat your relationships with healthy boundaries (mutual give and take).
- Have a healthy sense of competition. Be happy with the successes of others.
How do I meet people? Practical tips:
- If you are a dog owner, walk your pet every day in a public place where there are other people out and about.
- Join a gym or an exercise group. Exercising with others provides a good icebreaker for conversation.
- Volunteering is a great way to meet others who share your same passions.
- Find an interest group that meets regularly and works on their hobbies.
- Go back to school or take a class.
- Attend a house of worship. Connecting with God through prayer, worship, and other spiritual relationships nourish us too.
Have a happy week!
Candace Runaas, MS, LMFT-S
Director of Behavioral Health