You can find loads of advice about taking care of your mental and physical health. However, social wellness tends to receive less attention, even though the way you interact with others plays a big role in your overall wellbeing.
A year before social distancing became mandatory, 47% of Americans said they felt lonely, left out, and lacking meaningful connections with others. That’s according to a survey by Cigna, a global health services company.
Other studies have found that feelings of isolation may shorten your life span as much as being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. There’s also scientific evidence that adults with diverse relationships and high levels of social support are less likely to get sick when exposed to a virus.
Boost your health and happiness by paying attention to your social wellbeing. Try these strategies for building supportive relationships and strengthening your sense of community.
Connecting with Family and Friends:
1. Seek balance. Your social wellness encompasses the time you spend with others and on your own. Being comfortable with your thoughts and feelings allows you to enjoy your own company.
2. Be genuine. Your relationships will be more stable and meaningful if you reveal your authentic self. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable can feel risky, but you’ll be rewarded with being known and understood.
3. Set boundaries. Set reasonable guidelines for how you want to be treated. Let others know how you’ll respond to behavior that you find unacceptable.
4. Assert yourself. Ask for what you need. Stand up for your rights while considering the welfare of others.
5. Resolve conflicts. It’s natural to have disagreements with your loved ones. What matters is how you deal with them. Address differences promptly with direct and tactful communication. Take a breather if you need to calm down.
6. Encourage healthy lifestyles. We tend to make the same choices as the individuals we surround ourselves with. Team up with family and friends to reinforce positive habits. Eat nutritious meals and work out together.
7. Share your home. Many adults are experimenting with different living arrangements for financial and social reasons. Maybe you’d enjoy getting a roommate or creating an intergenerational household.
8. Have fun. Socializing provides serious health benefits, but there’s plenty of room for laughter and play. Make room in your schedule for movie nights and dance parties.
1. Value diversity. While close relationships count, it’s also beneficial to extend your social circle. Seize opportunities to talk with others from different walks of life. You may learn more about yourself and test your social skills.
2. Pursue your interests. A love for opera or organic gardening can help you discover new friends. Go to events and shops where you can mingle with other fans. Take classes or join clubs.
3. Love your neighbors. How well do you know your neighbors? Introduce yourself, so you can greet each other by name. Join neighborhood associations and help organize block parties. Be on the watch for elderly or disabled neighbors who may need help with errands and yard work.
4. Volunteer your time. Give back to your community. Contact your local volunteer clearinghouse to find nonprofits near you who need your help. You’ll have the satisfaction of supporting a worthy cause, and you might meet someone interesting.
5. Socialize online. If COVID-19 is still limiting your offline plans, take advantage of technology. Use Zoom and other platforms to meet with your book club and attend happy hour with your coworkers.
You can stay connected even if you’re spending more time at home. Nurture a supportive network of family and friends and reach out to others in your community.