What is Social Wellness and Why it Matters?
Human civilization has thrived through social interactions. It does not do too well when in isolation. As a social animal, achieving and nurturing social wellness is crucial to mankind's wellbeing. Let us then understand, what is social wellness in detail.
What is Social Wellness?
Social wellness or social wellbeing simply refers to development of positive relationships with other people. Our social wellness is often indicative of our emotional and physical well-being.
Thus, social interaction is essential for our overall health; so much so that the quality of our social relationships directly impact our behavioral health, physical health, emotional health, and mortality risk.
These relationships can be friendships, romantic partners, platonic relationships, mentor-student relationships, acquaintances, relationships with neighbors, professional relationships, etc.
Importance of Social Wellness in the Workplace
Now, you might wonder: what is social wellness at the workplace?
It’s simply the relationships you have with your co-workers, supervisors, or employees.
The health of our social relationships and social networks impacts our overall wellness in the workplace.
Let us understand how.
When our connections get stronger with time, our stress levels reduce drastically. Our responses to stressful situations improve. With reduced stress and anxiety, our immune system gets strengthened, our endocrine system is healthier, and our heart health improves tremendously.
According to Ashlee Bost, a marriage and family therapist associate at Covenant Health, “...people who do have healthy relationships and good support systems have better overall mood, deal better with stress and actually have increased self-esteem.”
Conversely, people who are socially isolated have a higher chance of developing chronic diseases and illnesses.
Poor social wellness may lead to:
- Weak immune system
- Heart diseases
- High Blood Pressure
- Poor Mental Health
- Anxiety and Depression
- Raised stress hormones
Workplaces are usually very stressful places. In fact, workplace stress is one of the leading causes of stress among American adults.
Hectic deadlines, working shifts, less pay, lack of communication among peers, supervisors and managers, are but a few of the reasons that might lead to more and more stress in the workplace. This may lead to poor performances and employee burnouts.
To combat such situations, we need to have a strong and dependable social network to seek guidance, support, and insight from.
Social support from one’s connections can be in one of the three ways:
In our everyday lives and especially when faced with a challenging situation, we depend on our social relationships to guide us with emotional support. Emotional support in times of a crisis is one of the three ways we gain social support from our social connections.
It is usual and common to depend on our social connections to help us with something tangible, like money, and other resources. This is an instance of showing and providing social support instrumentally.
The third way of providing and gaining social support from our social circle is what can be termed as 'informational' social support. Helping our social peers with information and knowledge of any sort falls under this category.
To keep a tab on the overall social wellness of your company, take a survey on how they feel about work relationships
Different Ways to Improve Social Wellness in the Workplace
In order to maintain your social wellness, you need to nurture and take care of your relationships in the workplace.
Cultivating social wellness involves engaging oneself in the following activities:
- Developing and maintaining long-term relationships with employees and co-workers.
- Having mutual trust and respect for each other.
- Actively listen to each others’ concerns and providing empathetic suggestions when necessary.
- Supporting your employees and colleagues in times of any crisis.
- Appreciate your employees and colleagues for a job well done: give them credit where credit is due.
- Be honest and considerate in your critique of their work.
- Fight any feelings of envy, and be genuinely happy for your co-workers’ successes.
- Participate in different activities together, for eg., lunch and learn sessions at work, office wellness challenges, being a member of an exercise group etc.
- Create healthy boundaries in all your relationships.
Facts and Stats on Social Wellness
Here are some fascinating and important facts and statistics on social wellness:
- The death rate of socially isolated people is two or three times higher than those with healthy social relationships
- Approximately 20 percent of Americans feel lonely in their free time
- Close friendships lead to higher levels of immunoglobulin that helps fight respiratory infectionsand cavities
- Touching, hugging, and laughing improves health
- The Harvard Study of Adult Development found that the quality of social relationships mattered more than the quantity
- According to Mayo Clinic, “Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).”
- Research by Shawn Achor found that having social connections is a helpful predictor of reduced stress
How you feel, and perform at your workplace depends significantly on your social wellness. Your social wellness in turn depends on the relationships and social connections that you form at work.
Thus, take your time to build a solid social support network that contributes to your emotional wellbeing. A little extra effort in building these relationships will ensure that you have a trusted group of people who look out for you, in success as well as in failure.
With the presence of positive relationships that reciprocate your respect, trust, and admiration, your overall wellness, mood, and self-esteem, will witness a significant peak.