Holistic Health: What is Social Wellness?
If you’ve been following along with our Holistic Health blog post series, you’ll have learned about five aspects of holistic health: sleep, movement, diet, finances, and your occupation. You would have learned that:
Holistic health means looking at a person as a whole being, not just a part of a being.
Sleep is tied intimately with both physical and mental health.
Joyful movement releases those feel-good chemicals that help our mood.
Intuitive eating can be better for your mental health than rigid, inflexible diets.
Financial wellness is tied to our mental health (financial trauma) and physical health (think housing, meal stability, healthcare).
Occupational wellness impacts both our mental health (quality of life) and physical health (through the work environment).
In the fifth part of this series, we’ll be talking about social wellness: your friends, family, support system … the folx you talk to!
How does our social situation impact our mental health? Can it impact our physical health? Keep on reading to learn the answers!
The Impacts of Our Social Situation on Physical Health:
When we think about our social lives, we usually don’t think about the correlation with our physical health. Consider the following ways our social situation impacts our physical health:
Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Our social circles often influence our lifestyle choices. When surrounded by friends or family members who prioritize healthy behaviors like regular exercise, nutritious eating, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking or excessive alcohol consumption, we are more likely to adopt these habits ourselves. These lifestyle choices have a direct impact on physical health outcomes, including weight management, reduced risk of chronic diseases, and increased overall well-being.
Longevity and Healthier Aging: Social connections have been linked to increased longevity and healthier aging. Studies have shown that individuals with strong social networks tend to live longer and have a lower risk of age-related conditions, including cognitive decline. Regular social engagement and maintaining social connections as we age can help preserve cognitive function, enhance emotional well-being, and contribute to better overall physical health in older adults.
Loneliness Takes a Physical Toll: Loneliness has a more significant impact on your physical conditions than you think! A study showed social isolation significantly increases your chance of premature death - maybe even moreso than smoking. Social isolation has also been linked to a higher chance of stroke, heart disease, and dementia.
The Impacts of our Social Situation on Mental Health:
This may be the more obvious category - after all, we were made to be social people. Consider the following impact of your social situation on your mental health:
Social Support and Coping Mechanisms: Social situations and relationships can have a significant impact on mental health. Positive social support, such as having close friends, family members, or a support network, can provide a sense of belonging, comfort, and understanding during challenging times. These relationships can serve as a crucial source of emotional support, offering coping mechanisms, empathy, and validation, which can help individuals better manage stress, reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression, and improve overall mental well-being.
Social Isolation and Loneliness: On the other hand, negative social situations such as social isolation or chronic loneliness can have detrimental effects on mental health. Lack of social connection and feelings of isolation can lead to increased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Prolonged loneliness has been linked to a higher risk of developing mental health disorders and can exacerbate existing mental health conditions. It's important to address and mitigate social isolation through fostering social connections and seeking support to protect and promote positive mental health.
Sense of Belonging and Identity: Social situations provide opportunities for individuals to develop a sense of belonging and forge their identity. Being part of a social group or community that shares common values, interests, or experiences can foster a sense of identity and purpose. This sense of belonging can contribute to positive mental health by providing a supportive environment, reducing feelings of alienation or marginalization, and promoting a positive self-image and overall well-being.
How to Cultivate Social Wellness:
Cultivating community is not only good for your physical and mental health, but good for the health of others as well. After all, when one of us heals, we all heal. Check out these tips on cultivating social wellness:
Building and Nurturing Relationships: Actively invest time and effort in building and nurturing meaningful relationships with family, friends, and community members. Engage in regular communication, spend quality time together, and show genuine care and interest in others. Building strong relationships fosters a sense of connection, support, and mutual well-being.
Social Engagement and Activities: Participate in social activities and engage in group settings that align with your interests and values. Join clubs, organizations, or community groups where you can connect with like-minded individuals, share experiences, and engage in shared activities. Social engagement provides opportunities for interaction, personal growth, and a sense of belonging.
Balancing Online and Offline Interactions: Find a balance between online and offline interactions. While technology enables connectivity, it's essential to prioritize face-to-face interactions and real-life connections. Allocate time for in-person meetups, gatherings, or activities that allow for deeper connections and meaningful social interactions beyond the digital realm.
Self-Care and Boundaries: Prioritize self-care and set healthy boundaries in your social interactions. Recognize your needs and limitations, and ensure you have a healthy balance between socializing and taking time for yourself. Setting boundaries helps maintain overall well-being, prevents burnout, and fosters healthier and more fulfilling social connections.
We hope this blog post helped inform you about holistic health, and just one element of it: social wellness! If you want more holistic help, look no further than Rise and Thrive Counseling. Our holistic counselors can help address all areas of life - including social wellness. Reach out today to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!