Right from the time you’re born, you’re always surrounded by people—family, friends, and the community you grew up in. At every stage of life, you gain a new social circle.
You have a different set of friends that you went to high school with, another set of friends you met at college, and yet another circle of colleagues from the workplace. These social circles help you develop habits, thought patterns, and even basic everyday behaviors.
When your connection to them starts to slip, so does your social health. This can lead to social isolation, which has a number of risks to your physical and mental health.
To help you get a better understanding of what social health is, let’s dive into the details, then we’ll go over ways to repair and strengthen it.
What exactly is social health?
Social health, also known as social wellness, means cultivating healthy social relationships to maintain personal wellbeing. Your social health impacts your mental as well as physical wellbeing and it’s more important than most of us realize.
Social health includes cultivating, maintaining, and reflecting upon your social relationships, as they are your support systems in navigating your life. It includes making time to meet and interact with family, friends, and colleagues.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic crippled your social health?
The simplest way to maintain social wellness was to meet and interact with people daily. Wherever you went, you met people – at work or school, in the neighborhood, or at restaurants.
Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic restricting movement and gatherings, socializing within our circles hasn’t been an option.
Instead, social media and video conferencing platforms have become the place to meet and interact with people. While it seems like you’re connected to your circle through messaging apps, it’s not as impactful as the real thing.
This has led people to become socially isolated, which can have lasting effects on their mental and physical health.
The Impact of Social Isolation on Your Life
Being socially isolated leads to many mental and physical challenges, even though it may seem enjoyable initially. The effects have been compared to those of hypertension, smoking, or obesity.
Socially healthy individuals are also more likely to respond better to stress and handle the ups and downs of life more easily. They have a strong social network that reduces stress and anxiety and allows them to live longer, happier lives.
Individuals who are socially isolated are prone to mental and physical diseases such as anxiety, depression, and heart disease.
Engage with people who match your values or those who support your goals and support them in return. All relationships are a two-way street.
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Why is repairing the damage and becoming stronger important?
If you have also been socially isolated like many others, it’s important to repair the damage the isolation has caused. However, equally important is becoming even stronger socially than we were before the pandemic.
People all over the world are suffering from social isolation, and becoming stronger will allow us to adopt a new reality and thrive in it. Old ways of maintaining social health, such as meeting over dinner, can be used in a limited capacity with the social distancing norms.
So, you must adapt to the situation and cultivate social interaction habits that allow you to stay connected to the people you care about, even though they’re physically distant.
Cultivating emotionally-intelligent habits is the key to repairing the damage of social isolation and also becoming stronger than before.
4 Ways of Strengthening Your Social Muscles
Here are four ways you can repair and strengthen your social health now:
1. Develop effective communication skills
Practice the basics of good communication such as active listening and positive body language (even on video calls). You must also maintain eye contact with people while talking to them, regardless of whether it’s in-person or on a video call.
2. Set time aside for interacting with loved ones
It’s easy to forget to check in with your loved ones, especially with most individuals working from home. When you’re plugged into work all the time, you may feel like there’s no time left to get in touch with your friends and family. Even then, you must make time.
3. Build meaningful relationships
Engage with people who match your values or those who support your goals and support them in return. All relationships are a two-way street. Observe if you’re always the one in need of support. If yes, make a conscious effort to be present for your friend when they need you. It’s also a good idea to meet new people with similar interests and ambitions.
4. Set healthy boundaries
While it’s essential to support your social circle and be present for your loved ones, it’s also essential to respect your time. If they are always the ones in need of your support, it’s okay to say no when you’re not feeling up to it. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
It can be difficult to cope with social isolation, especially during and after the pandemic. But don’t worry, you can always repair and rebuild your social health by following the tips given above.
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Photo by Bewakoof.com Official
About the writer
Director of Creative Strategy
Greg is Quotacy’s Director of Creative Strategy. He has an eclectic past from working on movie scripts to creating ad campaigns for major brands. His love of creative solutions drove him to strategy, and he now uses his powers to help families protect their loved ones. Outside of work, Greg spends his time off the grid hunting, fishing, camping, biking, hiking, and walking his dogs.