When you read the term social health, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of it as the way we interact with each other in regards to our morals, values, laws, and ethics. Some of you may jump to a thought about laughter and having fun; letting loose and even opening up.
I think of my social health as how I interact with those around me in any setting may it be work or pleasure. When I am caring for myself socially, I can often be relaxed and feel renewed, or I can be challenged and asked to take risks. Taking care of my social health can also challenge my belief system. All of these things help me to keep life in perspective as I try to view them as healthy growth opportunities. Today I challenge us to look through the lens of whole health and how tending to the way we interact with others could affect our mental, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual health goals.
Do you agree with this statement? To be socially healthy, you can make friends easily and work with people happily and friendly together in a group. (wikianswers.com) I do! Actually, while researching this topic I found many definitions on social health and I agreed with several of them. Our social health is not only how we behave but how we think of that in which drives our behaviors. Social health can be viewed as extremely complex and significantly simplistic. Social interactions in the multitude of situations we find ourselves in is vital to human health.
We as people were created to live among others. Not only do I need to seek opportunity to encourage, laugh, and love others; I need to allow them to do the same towards me. Please don’t get me wrong. I love alone time, quiet time, and me time! However, I do believe that if I spend too much time without investing in those around me in positive ways I can begin to feel a rut settle in; it is predictable and familiar. (Do you know exactly what you are having for dinner for the next week and what T.V. shows you are going to watch while eating them? Warning! A rut may be settling in!)
Doctor McClintock, Director of the Institute for Mind and Biology, found that rats living in groups lived 40% longer than those housed by themselves and also recovered more quickly from illness. This experiment has been extended to comparing lonely and social humans and although the trial is still running, early indications show the lonely people don’t recover as quickly from illness, don’t sleep as well and have higher systolic blood pressure. The early trial conclusions state that social interaction helps people be healthier and live longer.
I have several avenues that I attempt to work on my social health. I have noticed that my thoughts and behaviors at my day job can make or break how I view conflict and frustrations. I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn from experience as I grow in the marketplace.
I love interacting with my spouse and being intentional even though we both may be tired. (Many times one of us is wanting to talk and the other is just spent!) Navigating this quantity and quality time with him keeps our marriage rich and pushing forward. I feel refreshed after a quiet evening over dinner, a walk around the park, laughing at our favorite comedy, or opening up to him in regards to my fears and dreams.
I miss my family and desire to stay in communication with them. Phone calls and planned visits are sometimes challenging, but always uplifting.
I am blessed to have a fantastic resume of friends. I call these people both my mentors and my friends. I enjoy my peers and neighbors, but also value time with couples and small groups that offer wisdom from their years of experience. A girls’ night is renewing for me, while a night sitting out with the neighbors and their children is important and fun.
I never would have dreamt that my fitness clients and classes would be called a family. Several times a week we meet; in the darkness before the sun rises, or in the evening in the middle of a snow storm. This growing group of people are an inspiration to me. It’s not only me leading, coaching, and encouraging; they all offer these attributes by letting themselves be who they are. We are all working towards the same ultimate goal; health. These times are very socially healthy for me!
I recognize that not all social situations are positive and that sometimes we are presented with challenging and toxic people. In this case your social wellness can still be pursued by recognizing the truth of the person or situation and being courageous in taking some next steps to create a better outcome for yourself. If you desire optimal health, you should not be afraid to set firm boundaries in dealing with toxic people. To learn more on developing this habitude check out what Livestrong has to say.
Social relationships—both quantity and quality—affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk. Sociologists have played a central role in establishing the link between social relationships and health outcomes, identifying explanations for this link, and discovering social variation (e.g., by gender and race) at the population level. Studies show that social relationships have short and long-term effects on health, for better and for worse, and that these effects emerge in childhood and cascade throughout life to foster cumulative advantage or disadvantage in health.
With all of that said, how can we tap into our social health in a better way? The answers are endless…
How do you create opportunities for improving your social wellness?