What is Social Wellbeing?
Our health is multidimensional. Social wellbeing along with physical and mental wellbeing contribute to good health. When we experience unease or nervousness in social situations it can be easy to assume that you have social anxiety. This can sometimes be very distressing as human beings are innately social creatures. We live together in groups, clustering in cities and towns with families or friends. In fact, most people spend very few of their waking hours alone. Wanting to feel connected and be around other people is a natural impulse. Our health can be fundamentally influenced by the quantity and quality of our support networks and social connections.
So, what is meant by social wellbeing and how do we achieve it?
Social wellbeing (the social dimension of health) refers to our ability to make and maintain meaningful positive relationships and regular contact with other people in our world – family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. Good social wellbeing includes not only having relationships but also behaving appropriately in these relationships and maintaining acceptable social standards. Our relationship with our family, the basic social unit, impacts our life the most.
We build our social wellbeing by interacting with people around us. These interactions involve using good communication skills, creating and maintaining meaningful relationships, respecting ourselves and others, and creating support systems (with family and friends).
Social wellbeing is strongly linked to social inclusion and a sense of belonging. In our society, a connected person is a supported person. Social intelligence factors – like our emotional intelligence, moral code, upbringing, ability to adapt and altruism – all help to cultivate social wellbeing, as do things like trust, freedom and equal rights. Social wellbeing is also influenced by our lifestyles, value systems, beliefs and traditions.
The Importance of Relationships
“Man is by nature a social animal.” (Aristotle)
Humans are mutually dependent social creatures – we need to love and be loved. We have a need to belong, and we feel good when we share our experiences with others. The relationships we cultivate are essential to our health and happiness or, in other words, our wellbeing.
Social wellbeing affects our physical health. People with meaningful social relationships and good social connections tend to be happier, healthier and even live longer than those who don’t.
Assessing your Social Wellbeing
Think about your social wellbeing. Ask yourself:
• Do I schedule time with family and friends?
• Do I enjoy spending time with others?
• Do I interact with a diverse range of people – people from other cultures or backgrounds or people whose beliefs differ from mine?
• Are my relationships rewarding?
• Are my relationships positive?
A “no” answer to any of these questions may indicate that you need to work on an area of your social wellbeing.
People with high social wellbeing see the value in living in harmony with others and developing healthy behaviours. They seek positive, interdependent relationships with others.
Tips for Achieving Social Wellbeing
So how do we achieve social wellbeing?
We need to take time to foster and maintain meaningful relationships with others. Build on your existing relationships – take a walk with a friend (make it a regular arrangement), schedule family dinners, stay connected – and create new relationships – volunteer, join social groups, take up a group sport, join a local team, or find support groups (e.g. playgroups for mothers of young children).
Remember, meeting new people and making new friends is essentially the same no matter what your stage of life. The basics always apply: be friendly, smile, say hello and chat (a good tip to get started is to take an interest and ask questions about the other party – most people love to talk about themselves. This breaks the ice and usually results in them reciprocating). See the positives in people and acknowledge and praise these things (if you can’t find any nice things to say, then maybe these aren’t the right people for you) and don’t forget to initiate interactions, invite and accept offers.
Above all – get out there and avoid isolating yourself.
If you would like to discuss strategies to improve your social wellbeing contact Wellbeing Therapy Space at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Claire Mansveld of Hey Zeus! Creative