Before 2020, social wellness was something many of us took for granted. However, when we all found ourselves in lockdown, isolated from the social relationships that contributed to our health and happiness, many of us struggled to find peace. On the other hand, some of us may have experienced a greater sense of peace as we “got a break” from the social aspects of our lives that contributed to increased stress and anxiety. Either way, the social shutdown of 2020 provided an excellent opportunity to reflect on the importance of fostering social wellness.
As we navigate our way “back to normal,” many of us feel motivated to develop genuine relationships and strong social connections with individuals, groups, and communities. As we apply strategies to improve our social wellness, we might notice an ability to respond to stress in healthier ways, with fewer health issues, a more positive outlook, and an overall healthier lifestyle.
Here are some strategies that each of us can implement in our efforts to increase our social wellness:
- Reflect on how individuals, groups, and communities influence you. Pay attention to how you feel about yourself, the behaviors you engage in, and your motivation when interacting in different social situations. Healthy social interactions promote respectful communication, trust, honesty, equality, and mutual decision-making. Unhealthy social interactions underscore a lack of communication, dishonesty, pressure, competition for control, isolation, and accusations. If you find yourself caught in unhealthy social interactions, set healthy boundaries. These boundaries could be physical space, assertiveness, seeking help from others, identifying and letting go of codependency, and developing a stronger sense of self.
- Set priorities to help you balance your time, attention, and energy. We often make decisions under the false notion that a balanced life consists of giving equal time, attention, and energy to all aspects of our lives, all the time. If you have ever watched performing acrobats spinning plates, you know that the way they keep them all up at the same time is to always give their attention to the plate that is spinning the slowest. David Bednar says, “Sometimes we reflect on all of our responsibilities at home, school, work, and church and wonder how we can achieve a balance among the many competing demands on our time. Instead of driving ourselves crazy trying to do everything at the same time, we should identify the few fundamental things that are our highest priorities. We then can strive to give each of them the attention they need—one at a time. When you are at home, choose to make home the priority. When you are at school, choose to make school the priority. When you are at work, choose to make work the priority.” Applying this analogy helps us lean into the supportive relationships found in different settings while also being available to provide that same support for others.
- Practice self-care in balance with caring for others. Taking care of our own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health enables us to recharge, reflect, and restart. Practicing self-care helps improve our happiness, restfulness, and overall health, making it easier for us to provide positive, supportive, and genuine social support to those around us.
Improving social wellness takes time and effort. Start taking small steps each day to develop healthy habits. Be intentional as you reflect on your social interactions with others. Continue to set daily priorities for your time, attention, and energy. Develop self-care strategies that enable you to provide supportive relationships to those around you.