Is Social Well-being the Antidote to Loneliness?
What is social health and well-being? Social wellness involves building and nurturing meaningful and supportive relationships with individuals, groups and our community.
It enables us to have healthy and genuine relationships where we need to communicate, build trust, establish boundaries and continue to learn ways to deal with conflict.
In essence, social wellness is important to us as human beings as we are truly social beings.
How I Did It
I remember when I moved from Tampa to West Palm Beach and I had two wee little children about one and a half years old. My husband and I knew no one and I was a stay-at-home mum so I understood that my task was to go out and create a community for myself and my family. I started online by looking up mom’s clubs and then attending the events meeting other new moms and forming friendships.
I also went to every story time I could find in the community, joined a running club and started talking to my neighbors in the neighborhood.
Before long, and with a lot of trial and error I eventually found my people, some of whom I still have the privilege of having in my life today.
I essentially created a community for myself so that I could feel I belonged.
Dangers of Being Disconnected
So what happens if you do not work on your social wellness and become isolated? Let’s face it, social wellness enhances our lives and is a great buffer for life's adversities. According to Brain Forest Centers, research has shown that social wellness and having a strong social network enhances our lives and helps us to live longer.
Stress is better handled, which in turn provides us with a better immune system, so we are better able to fight off diseases. We are generally healthier with lower blood pressure, less depression and better cardiovascular functioning.
I have truly seen first hand what happens if people do not have a community. So many people move from other parts of the country, arriving in Florida and never truly end up making roots. This in turn causes depression, increased anxiety, feelings of loneliness and never feeling like they belong. So what can you do?
Ways to Connect
Well I think the first important thing to do is to learn how to communicate in a healthy and effective way.
Learning how to communicate your thoughts, feelings and emotions is important, since this is a positive and effective way in building relationships in the first place. As you communicate your needs you end up building trust and creating empathy and compassion within the relationship. As the relationship builds you can be there for others during difficult times and visa versa.
So reaching out is important. Look at what is being offered in your community, what groups would you be interested in joining, what neighbors do you want to get to know and what volunteer opportunities are you interested in.
I remember when we moved into our new house and I was determined to get to know our neighbors. It was coming up for Christmas and I decided to host a happy hour and invited all of my neighbors. It was so much fun and we really got to know each of them so well over the years, that we do it every year and always have impromptu gatherings in the neighborhood. When I walk or drive down my street, I feel at home.
What NOT to Do
It is also important to understand that sometimes the people we meet are not meant to be in our lives.
Some people can be toxic, exhausting and draining and if we choose to keep them in our lives they end up taking up too much space, causing our own mental health to decrease, which in turn causes depression resulting in our isolating from others.
Trial and Error
Be open minded but also selective when choosing who you spend your time with. Allowing negative people to exit your life and allowing room for the positive ones is key to leading a fulfilling life with contentment. Find the right fit for you and accept that everyone can't be that ideal match. So go out there and connect!