When reading and learning about mindfulness and personal wellbeing, one term that you will probably come across if you haven’t already is social health.
While we can often prioritize our own mental and physical health above all else, a huge part of staying happy and content in our lives also has to do with our relationships and social circle.
Social interactions form a massive part of our lives and are something many of us may neglect, however keeping our interactions consistent and healthy can grant some incredible benefits to our everyday lives, so it is always worth keeping in mind especially since loneliness can lead to some horrible effects on both our mental and even physical wellbeing in the long term.
What Does Social Health Mean?
In its simplest definition, social health refers to how capable we are of forming meaningful and authentic relationships as part of our personal social support structure.
This term is actually often used in relation to children, specifically how capable they are of trusting other kids and forming bonds that can reflect how they will engage with these interactions when they grow older.
For adults, it refers to how healthy our bonds are with those who surround us in our day to day lives, specifically our ability to actually form these bonds through communications and interactions, but also the actual quality of these relationships referring to how long they last and how meaningful the bond actually is.
In terms of who is involved within these social circles, it essentially includes people you interact with in your day to day life, however this doesn’t only need to be close friends, it can also include romantic partners, professional relationships and our family members.
Why Is Our Social Health So Important?
Humans are not built to be isolated and lonely for too long, in fact research has shown that the stress of worrying about consistent loneliness and a lack of social health can negatively impact both our mental and physical health such as leading to high blood pressure, chronic disease and even heart problems down the line.
Being socially isolated can also lead to anxiety and depression, so having good social health is vital to keep us feeling energized, happy and more involved in the current moment.
Benefits Of Having Good Social Health
There are a multitude of benefits that can come from having a strong and positive social circle both on the mind and the body which makes it vitally important to consider when trying to maintain and improve your own personal well being.
Some of these include:
- Promotes a sense of belonging – Maintaining positive social interactions with those around you helps you feel safe and secure rather than feeling isolated and out of the loop.
- Allows you to get things off your chest – Having meaningful relationships either with friends, family or a romantic partner grants you the ability to confide in them while they can also confide in you, allowing you to truly express how you feel and letting out a lot of stress rather than keeping it bottled up.
- Improved mental health – Strong relationships have been shown to drastically lower effects of anxiety and depression while helping to keep our serotonin levels consistently high. It has even been shown to lower the risk of dementia, showing just how beneficial a few good social relationships are for the mind.
- Better physical health – Studies have shown that not only are people with good social health and strong social ties at a much lower risk of catching any stress or heart related diseases, on average they also live a lot longer than people who are more socially isolated. Being more sociable has also been proven to help boost our immune system, making us more resistant to colds and the flu.
- Relieve pain – Whether it’s physical or mental pain you are experiencing, research has shown that something as simple as holding hands or a hug with someone you care about can drastically lower pain perceptions along with blood pressure.
Ways To Improve Social Health
It’s never too late to start making positive changes in your life to improve your social interactions and your social health overall, and if you stay determined and put in the effort, doing this can be a lot easier than you might think.
Here are some great tips for improving your social health:
Make New Connections
Whether it’s through joining a local community or partaking in a new hobby with others such as cycling or painting classes, going out of your comfort zone is a great way to meet new people and instantly form refreshing and meaningful connections which can strengthen our social health tremendously.
Take The Initiative
A lot of the time we can drift from people we once called close friends just because we get busier in our day to day lives.
Try to prevent this from happening by making the first move and arranging to meet up with some friends so that you maintain that close bond with those you truly care about.
Bond With The Family
There’s no one more closely related to us than our own family, and while many of us might not spend as much time with them as we should, taking the time to partake in fun activities and experiences with our families can help us feel far more socially secure.
Practice Communication Skills
Good eye contact, clear speech and interested body language are extremely important for letting someone know you are engaged in the conversation which can help build more meaningful conversations, especially with strangers.
Quality Over Quantity
Rather than trying to make as many friends as possible on a social media app for example, it’s important that the conversations are meaningful and beneficial for both people, so focus on a smaller number of people with whom you can strengthen your bond with rather than as many people as possible.
Our social health is just as important as our mental and physical well being, so it’s always crucial to strengthen our social bonds as much as possible so that we can feel as happy, safe and healthy as possible in our day to day lives.
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