If you routinely wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve been run over by a bus, even after a solid eight hours of sleep, chances are good you’d make the trek to your naturopathic doctor to investigate what’s going on in your body.
But when it comes to your social health, a plan of action may not be so clear-cut. For example, if you’re an introvert, receiving an invitation to a large party may make you feel overwhelmed and anxious. You’re infinitely tempted to just stay at home and curl up on the couch binge-watching your favourite Netflix series.
In a similar vein, you may desire to network more with people in your professional field, but the thought of having to make small talk with strangers sends shivers down your spine.
Fear not. There are many ways you can create social wellness in your life and become more confident in your ability to connect with people in a meaningful way in any social situation.
In a nutshell, social wellness is about your ability to engage with the people around you. It involves using good communication skills, having meaningful relationships, respecting yourself and others and creating a solid support system of family, friends, co-workers and peers, according to the University of Calgary’s Wellness Centre.
Your social well-being revolves around you not only nurturing yourself, but actively participating in the community in which you live.
To get you started, below are three important steps you can take today to begin living a more healthy and fulfilling life, one in which you freely share your thoughts, needs and feelings with others.
Improve your communication skills
Communication skills are crucial in developing and keeping friendships and to building a strong social support network, states the Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia. Effective communication also helps you take care of your own needs, while being respectful of the needs of others. People aren’t born with good communication skills; like any other skill, they are learned through trial and error and repeated practice.
Here are some tips:
- When you join a group of people who are engaged in a discussion, listen for a while and then offer a comment when appropriate. You can smile and nod as you follow the conversation, then introduce yourself when there’s a break in the conversation;
- Any social situation where people are participating in an activity is a perfect way to blend in and get to know new people and;
- You can earn someone’s trust by revealing something personal about yourself. Share an interesting story about your life or recount a funny observation you made from normal everyday life.
Contribute to your community
Lending a hand to those less fortunate in your city or town can only help make it a better place. There are many organizations that need help, so why not volunteer?
Here are some ideas:
- The innovative website volunteermatch.org lets you choose the country you live in and your category of interest. All opportunities appear according to city and province and give you a basic overview of the positions available, along with contact information for each;
- Think of a place that could benefit from your talents, skills and experience. You might find satisfaction teaching English-as-a-second-language, or maybe you have a particular hobby that you love to share with others and;
- Volunteering for a particular organization or cause that’s close to your heart will bring you together with like-minded people. It’s also a good way to expand your social circle.
Build your support system
A strong social support network can be key in helping you through a rough patch, whether you’ve had a crazy day at work or have experienced loss, states advice on the Mayo Clinic website. Since your supportive family, friends and co-workers are such an important part of your life, it’s never too soon to cultivate these important relationships.
Here’s some tips to help you build and maintain relationships:
- Hanging out with people helps ward off loneliness and feelings of isolation. Whether it’s neighbours, old high school buddies or family members, just knowing you’re not going it alone can go a long way toward coping with stress and;
- Having people who call you a friend reinforces the idea that you’re a good person to be around and;
- Your naturopathic doctor or other health care practitioner are good sources of information. They can put you in touch with counsellors, therapists, psychologists and other mental health professionals if you feel like you need more help when it comes to being more socially active.