Your relationship with others and the community around you shape your mental, physical, and emotional health. If you want to take a holistic approach to your overall health and wellbeing, you should prioritize social wellness.
Social wellness is the ability to form and maintain relationships with others. Furthermore, it's the ability to interact and promote healthy communication within those relationships.
Practicing social wellness involves proactively communicating with others when we are in need, and providing a listening ear and support when others need us. In this way, social wellness focuses on developing and maintaining healthier relationships with friends, family members, romantic partners, colleagues, or other members of your community.
The reason why social wellness is so important is that people with strong social connections respond better to stress, have fewer health issues, maintain a more positive outlook, and healthier lifestyle.
There are reasons why hospitals encourage chronically ill patients to attend support groups. Preventative care often requires patients to have a support system before specific procedures or operations. According to studies conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, social connections can decrease the risk of mortality, and re-hospitalization.
While researchers are still exploring the overall health benefits of maintaining social networks, it is clear that individuals who have social support tend to have better health outcomes than those with a "low quantity or quality" of healthy relationships.
A healthy relationship can provide accountability and encouragement to engage in healthy eating and exercise habits - which can improve many health-related issues. Family and friends can also offer the motivation a person needs to fight through difficult parts of the recovery process.
In the same great way that a quality network of support provides physical health benefits, maintaining healthy relationships with others has emotional health benefits as well.
Approximately 60% of American adults report feeling daily stress and worry which has an impact on our overall wellbeing. One great way to help lower and manage feelings of worry is to receive support from friends.
Whether your friends offer support in the form of advice, active listening, or through more tangible ways like offering financial support or providing meals, the people within your circle of relationships can ease the burdens that arise during difficult times. This support can encourage you to push through your challenging situation, and help you feel valued.
Because our brain health influences the way we think and behave, it is imperative that we monitor and bolster our cognitive wellbeing. Social wellness helps nurture a healthy mind by helping individuals manage grief and reframe negative thoughts.
Pervasive negative thoughts can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. One of the best ways to practice self-care and combat these negative thoughts is to communicate your thoughts and emotions with others. Speaking to a trusted therapist, friend, or support group can help you change your negative thoughts before these thoughts influence your behavior.
Negativity breeds in isolation, and when you are alone, the challenges you are facing seem more significant or insurmountable. Prioritizing social wellness is important because it helps you develop the tools and ability to communicate the problems or thoughts that are bothering you and provide you with people with whom you can share your concerns.
According to a Harvard study, loneliness can shorten a person's lifespan by up to eight years, carrying a risk factor similar to that of smoking 15 cigarettes each day. In addition to this risk factor, isolation can also contribute to anxiety, feelings of sadness and depression, and health conditions like coronary heart disease.
Social wellness helps combat isolation and loneliness because social relationships can help individuals face life and all its joys and sorrows with the help of friends that care. Nothing helps fight the negative impacts of loneliness like the presence of people who can offer love and support, rejoice in your accomplishments, and walk with you through moments of pain. The connection is a critical component of social wellness, and it is essential for your health.
In addition to the benefits that come from receiving support, offering care, supportive feedback, and connection to people in your social network yields positive results. Helping others causes feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment, reduces stress, and helps better your community.
If you want to pursue health in every aspect of your life, you cannot neglect social wellness. Social wellness influences almost every area of your being from your physical health and general wellbeing.
Try taking some time to examine your current relationships and social needs. If you realize that you do not have a social network or that you're neglecting some of your relationships, you should make the changes necessary to improve your social wellness.
As you take these steps, notice improvements within your family members, significant others, friends, colleagues, support group, or other members of your community. You'll also be surprised by the indirect benefits of feeling happier, healthier, and more fulfilled with your daily life.
Written by BioNeurix Editorial Team
Originally published 7/22/2019
Last updated 3/11/2021