Social Wellness Is Defined By You, Not Them
Social media would have you believe social wellness is defined by how many likes, shares, and followers you get in an hour, a day, a week. If being judged by the pictures of your food and your pet were the criteria, they might be correct. Yeah . . . No.
Social Wellness Is About Relationships
Specifically, making the most of the ones you have while also finding ways to make new ones. Just as with your previous two pillars, you’ll need to first understand your current social state. It’s not measured by how many friends you have, or how often you engage in activities, but rather how your relationships and activities are fulfilling your needs. And only you can determine what your social needs are.
Let’s take a look at the underlying factors that define your social needs. How many can you relate to?
- Are you lonely?
- Do you enjoy your current relationships?
- How do you make time for others?
- What activities have you regretfully passed up?
- Do friends and family invite you to participate?
- Are you available to engage in activities?
- What hobbies or interests are you ignoring?
- Having a hard time finding activities that interest you?
- Would you do more if you had a partner?
Balance vs. Co-Dependency
It’s important to understand that each relationship will be different, depending on the person at the other end. However, almost all functional relationships require both people to maintain a level of independence and autonomy. When we find ourselves in a relationship based primarily on satisfying a need (like love, loneliness, or something else that benefits one person more than the other) it creates “co-dependency.” This places an undue burden on you or the other person, which is often not healthy.
Social wellness means you are meeting your needs outside of your relationships. For example, if you need love, you need to love yourself before someone else can love you (and vice versa). If you’re in a relationship where you feel loved but don’t share the sentiment for the other person, it becomes easier to cause pain. This will definitely be a drag on your social wellness (and theirs).
Now apply this idea to casual friendships, professional contacts, family dynamics, etc. The goal is to make sure you’re not taking advantage of someone else. And making sure someone else isn’t taking advantage of you.
Plan of Action
Now that you’ve taken a moment to assess your current state of social wellness, start making yourself socially healthier. Go out there and do things! What activities do you enjoy? Plan them and find ways to bring others along. If you’re happier outside and being active, invite others to play along. If you prefer being indoors, make plans for company and enjoy social time that way.
There’s nothing wrong with alone time. But if you find yourself alone more often than not—and noticing it with regret—maybe it’s time to take a proactive approach and invite others into your private space. Not only could joint activities strengthen your relationships, being social could boost your self-esteem, as well.
Choose Your Activities With Care
Think of the behaviors you engage in. Some will be positive and others will be negative. Can you see how each will have a direct effect on your other pillars of wellness? How can you balance the good from the bad so your social pillar doesn’t erode too much? If you find yourself engaging in too many activities that have negative results (and we’re all guilty of that at times), make a deliberate shift. Find time to volunteer, taking in the cultural arts in your area, take time to travel, participate in team sports, games, and recreational activities. See? That’s not so hard.
Something as simple as movie night can help strengthen relationships that lean toward the negative—and improve your mood and self-esteem very naturally. Negative social activities you engage in without your partner might damage your relationship, and increase stress. That affects your emotional wellness pillar. By making poor choices, you harm yourself in other ways. If you wake up the next morning feeling as like you’ve been run over by a truck, it might be best to avoid those trucks!
Put Yourself On The Priority List
Of course, the more responsibilities you have, the harder it is to balance your social life with obligations that top your priority list. You’re the one that decides how important your social wellness is. You’ll always have responsibilities—to work, school, family, etc. However, how you spend your free time and with whom is entirely up to you.
Make social activities a priority in your life. And involve the ones you care about. It will make all your other obligations easier to participate in. Most importantly, it will reduce your overall stress.
So, go ahead. Give yourself an afternoon off for play. It may make your workweek that much easier to enjoy.
Quotes To Remember
“The wellness and prevention market will outgrow the healthcare market.” —Leroy Hood
“A wise man ought to realize that health is his most valuable possession.” —Hippocrates