Humans are inherently social beings. We interact with different people in different ways every day. Hence, connections and relationships are an essential component to our overall health, well-being and wellness.
So what is social health?
Social health is our ability to interact and build valuable and meaningful relationships with others. It involves how comfortable we feel in social environments and our capability to adapt to changing social situations.
Signs of being socially healthy include:
- Employing assertive skills over aggressive or passive skills
- Engaging with others in the community
- Being yourself in social situations
- Effectively balancing your social and personal time
- Being able to build and maintain friendships
- Successfully adapting in social situations
- Establishing boundaries in friendships to employ effective conflict management
- Developing a supportive social network of both friends and family
- Enjoying life
What is the fuss with social health? Is it important?
According to the Australian Government, “social relationships are protective of mental health”. The quantity and quality of our relationships significantly impact our mental and physical well-being. Being able to build and maintain good levels of social wellness enables us to develop valuable interpersonal relationships with others. These relationships comprise of intimate, family, platonic, professional and friendships.
Researchers over the years have found that poor social health increases your chance of issues such as poor mental health, anxiety, depression, chronic disease and elevated stress hormones.
Improving our social health
Good and positive social skills are a learned behaviour with practice. Hence, anyone can build and improve their social wellness. Begin with engaging in self-care practice as before you can start improving your social wellness, you need to look after yourself. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, sleeping and removing negative behaviours are all ways to nurture your well-being. Then you can look to building social interactions where even the most confident people can feel scared, nervous and intimidated when in new social situations and when making new friends. Engage with small talk, using easy topics, carefully listening to their responses to identify any areas of common interest. These areas of common interest make it easier to keep the conversation going and appealing to both.
Additionally, not everyone desires close friendships where some people prefer to have a wide social network of low-key friendships throughout their lives. This can be achieved by joining a community group or an exercise group where these interactions can make a difference to improving your social health.
Once we have built relationships, we do need to make an effort to nurture and maintain them.
We do lose relationships and friendships when we don’t keep in contact. Over time some may fade out if neither party works at them or commits to them. Hence, make a commitment to them and keep it. Your friend won’t feel valued if you keep cancelling and making up an excuse for not going, thus don’t cancel a commitment.
Criticism and blame can be another factor that causes a friendship break-up. If you have a disagreement or conflict, talk out the issue instead without blame, anger or criticism. Similarly, listening is an area that needs to be focused on as everyone wants to feel they are being heard. Sometimes, relationship fatigue can occur resulting in yourself tuning out the other person. Be mindful of this and try to actively listen, respond appropriately and don’t interrupt others when they are speaking.
Reflecting on our current relationships and ourselves is an effective way to analyse our social health and wellness. Therefore, we encourage you today, to reflect on your current social health, identify areas that could be improved as at every stage of life there are opportunities for enjoying a socially healthy life.
Our Psych Up! resources in May are based on ‘What is Social Health’. Thus, make sure to stay tuned for our weekly blog post updates, as well as our podcasts and webinars.
For more information about performance psychology, the MBTI, managing team differences or anything else mentioned, get in touch with our team today.