Wellness means overall well-being. It is not the absence of disease, illness or stress, but the presence of purpose in life, active involvement in satisfying work or play, joyful relationships, a healthy body and living environment, and happiness. Each of us can strive for wellness even if we are experiencing such challenges as stress or illness. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, there are eight core dimensions of wellness. These include emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational and social. Social wellness is defined as “developing a sense of connection, belonging and a well-developed support system.”
Social wellness includes positive interactions with and enjoying being with others. It is experiencing comfort and ease during work and leisure situations and communicating feelings and needs to others. It also involves developing and building close friendships and intimacy, practicing empathy and effective listening, caring for others and for the common good, and, just as important, allowing others to care for you.
Are you engaged in the process of taking care of your social wellness? You may ask yourself:
Do I plan time to be with my family and friends? Do I enjoy the time I spend with others? Are my relationships with others positive and rewarding? And keep in mind, a healthy relationship contains five important qualities: safety, honesty, respect, acceptance and enjoyment.
July is Social Wellness month and we are encouraged to reach out to others and build strong social ties with family and friends. It takes planning and effort to carve out time for those activities and they may not happen naturally in today’s hectic and busy society. It is very important though to focus on your social wellness. People who maintain their social network and support systems do better under stress and are physically and mentally healthier. A strong social network can create a good mood and self-esteem. Contrarily, cholesterol levels rise when human companionship is lacking and socially isolated people are more susceptible to illness and have a death rate two the three times higher than those who are socially active.
Tips to improving your social wellness include practicing self-disclosure – sharing personal feelings or information with others; getting to know your personal needs and pursuing things and people who nurture those needs; contacting and making a specific effort to talk (not just text) to the people who are supportive in your life; joining a club or organization that interests you; and checking out volunteer opportunities in your community. For more information on achieving social wellness, the eight dimensions of wellness and other resources, visit our website at http://www.pcmhrb.org/mental-wellness.html