Posted by Kris Drake, RN, CHPD, on November 20, 2015
“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” – Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr.
I recently received an invitation apply for an award to recognize Freeman WellBalance, our employee wellness program, for its social wellness offerings. I have been promoting wellness for over 10 years and have never been asked specifically about our social wellness initiatives. Typically, when we think of wellness or health promotion, we often reference or expect to see information on healthy eating or increasing our physical activity. Both of these areas of wellness have a social component, but you may be wondering, what is social wellness?
Social wellness has been described by the University of California as 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. It’s important to note that face-to-face interaction with friends and loved ones is crucial for social wellness. We may feel that we engage in social wellness on a regular basis through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but those interactions do not take place in person.
Research shows there is a direct correlation between the degree to which a person feels connected to others and mental and physical health. Individuals who don’t feel connected to others have a greater likelihood of developing chronic illness, such as diabetes and heart disease, than someone with strong social connections. They may suffer from more occurrences of cold and flu and/or take longer to recover from illness. These individuals may also be more likely to develop depression and to have lack of energy or interest in activities. It has also been noted that they may have shorter lifespans.
Here are a few ways you can help improve your own social wellness:
- Set a time to meet in-person with a family member or friend you haven’t seen in a while
- Volunteer your time at a local event or nonprofit
- Invite a friend for a walk or hike
- Make a habit of logging off social media when you are in a group setting
- Develop good listening skills and stay present when people are talking to you
Take time this week to try one of the ideas above and see if you have more energy or excitement for life.