If any component of health has a reputation as being frivolous, it’s social wellness. It gets an undeserved bad rap, however. Social wellness has a significant influence on your physical and emotional health. Let’s look at why making time with your friends should be a real priority in your life.
What Is Social Wellness?
Social wellness relates to your interactions with other people, particularly your friends. You may pay great attention to your financial and physical wellness. However, you might fail to make time to nurture your relationships with others. That’s a mistake.
Putting the time in to build and maintain friendships will benefit you in numerous ways, enhancing your health.
How Does Social Wellness Help Your Health?
Spending time with your friends pays off big time when it comes to your health. Here are some of the ways it can help you.
- Better brain health: Even just 10 minutes a day of interacting with friends can improve your cognitive assessment ability. If you have age-related dementia that runs in the family, making and keeping friends – and seeing them frequently – may help ward that dementia off for as long as possible.
- Reducing stress: Is there anything better when you’re highly stressed than an evening spent laughing with some of your best friends? Also, when you’re feeling down, your best friends seem to know exactly what to say to cheer you up.
- Boost your immune system: A robust immune system can help you fight off colds, the flu, and other ailments. Socializing appears to have a positive impact on your immune system. So, by seeing your friends, you can make yourself stronger and healthier.
- Increased life span: Those who have strong social connections seem to live longer than people who isolate themselves. These connections can be with family members, your community, or your friends – they all help.
Is Interacting With Friends Through Social Media Good Enough?
Thirty years ago, if you were told to interact with friends, you’d either call them on your phone or line up a time to see each other. These days, it’s much different. Some people talk about all the “friends” they have, but they are often people they’ve met on social media. Sometimes, they’ve never even met these friends in real life.
Do social media friends count for your overall social wellness? While social media friends are better than nothing, they aren’t as good as having real-life friends you see. Generally, friendships with strangers or acquaintances that you form online aren’t true friendships. You can’t count on these people to bring you a meal if you’re bedridden from illness or watch your kids for you when your regular babysitter has canceled.
You don’t usually have a long-term bond with social media friends that you do with real-life friends. Plus, you won’t get the physical benefits from chatting with a friend online like you would with a real friend that you meet up with a couple of times a week to take a walk with, for example.
Part of the reason why face-to-face socialization is much better is that you have the added benefit of body language and facial expressions, which help you better determine how a friend is really feeling about something.
While it’s fine to stay on social media, make sure you see some friends in real life as many times per week as you can manage.
How to Improve Your Social Wellness
It may take a little work to improve your social wellness if you’re used to spending most of your time alone. It can also feel awkward at first to restore friendships or meet new ones, but it gets easier as you go along. Here are a few ways you can boost your social wellness to new heights:
- Focus on your listening skills: Friends who are great at truly listening to others are a rarity. By becoming a better listener, you’ll gain new friends without even trying.
- Join a club or organization: If you have moved to a new area or have kept to yourself most of the time, you’ll need to make new friends. A great place is to join a book club, a charitable organization, or some other group. You’ll be socializing when you’re attending meetings, and some of the new acquaintances may turn in to real friends.
- Make friendships a priority: If you want to have lasting friendships, you need to show up for your friends in your life when they need you, not when it’s convenient for you. You need to put the work in by making yourself available.
- Treat it like an appointment: Pick a day on your calendar once a week, where you’ll make sure to fit in some social interaction. Treat it as you would a doctor’s appointment – don’t skip it.
- Don’t stop at one friend: For the most vibrant social life, you should aim to have several different friends, and more specifically, more than one group or type of friends. If you work out, for instance, you can have your fitness friends. But you should have more than that for some variety. You can also have book club friends or see distant family members socially.
- Go somewhere new: By visiting new places, restaurants, and parks, you’ll be casting a wider net to find friends. Plus, it will introduce a little adventure into your life, which might be sorely needed.
- Join a church: Church is a low-pressure way to meet a variety of new people. Plus, everyone is usually on their best behavior, which makes it far easier to feel free to walk up and introduce yourself.
Make Friendship Have Even Bigger Returns
Having a good friend is a reward all in itself. But there are perks that go beyond the thrill of having someone to catch a movie with on occasion. You can substantially improve your mental and physical health just by being more socially active – and you may even live longer because of it.