Social Wellbeing & Social Distancing

April 13, 2020

Now is the Time to Attend To Your Social Wellbeing

Have you ever wished you had more time to reconnect with friends you haven’t heard from in a while, spend true quality time with family, or introduce yourself to that neighbor you see out on your walks?

There’s no time like the present to improve your social health and wellbeing. In fact, nurturing your social wellbeing may be a game changer between just surviving or thriving during these uncertain times when we are required to be socially distanced from one another.

Social connections provide us with the emotional support, material resource help and information to thrive, as well as lessen the impact of stress and trauma. Greater social connectedness has been linked to lowered blood pressure, better immune responses – both even more important now – higher survival rates of heart attacks, cancer recurrence and other illnesses.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 Book, WellbeingIn the classic research book, and one of my favorites, StrengthsFinder 2.0 Wellbeing, The Five Essential Elements, by Gallup’s Tom Rath and Jim Harter, they share the results of 100+ years of a global comprehensive study of 150 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and asked hundreds of questions about health, wealth, relationships, jobs, and communities. The results give us a lens into 98% of the world’s population which revealed that there are five universal elements of well-being that differentiate a thriving life from one spent suffering.

The 5 elements are:

  1. Career Wellbeing
  2. Social Wellbeing
  3. Financial Wellbeing
  4. Community Wellbeing
  5. Physical Wellbeing

Rath states that, “While 66% of people are doing well in at least one of these areas, just 7% are thriving in all five. If we’re struggling in any one of these domains, as most of us are, it damages our well-being and wears on our daily life. When we strengthen our wellbeing in any of these areas, we will have better days, months, and decades.

Social Wellbeing is about having strong relationships and love in your life; the extent to which you feel a sense of belonging and social inclusion. Lifestyles, how we live together, value systems, traditions and beliefs and how we respond during challenging times are all important to our social wellbeing and quality of life.

Relationships serve as a buffer during tough times, which in turn improves our physical health and decreases stress levels.

Another powerful research study revealed that the statement “I wish I would have stayed in touch with my friends” was one of the Top 5 Regrets of The Dying.

So, although we can certainly benefit from dedicating time to improving each of the five elements of wellbeing while staying at home, managing work, family and quarantine conditions, starting this week with social wellbeing could be just what we all need to persevere – a quarantine survival strategy, or better yet, a thriving strategy.

Simply ask yourself, who are the people you were previously “too busy” to connect with that you can check in on? Who can you reach out to, send a handwritten note, a text or email, or even better pick up the phone and call a friend, neighbor, colleague or family member to just say hello and let them know you are thinking about them? If you’re experimenting with new ways to connect with technology, schedule a social meeting.

Saying that “we’re all in this together” means that we also do the work and make an intentional effort to stay socially connected and together (even if we’re physically not together). So, let’s walk the walk to improved social wellbeing for ourselves and those we care about and thrive on together!

Be the person to reach out. What are you waiting for?

Susan Van Hoosen, Population Health Strategist

Article by:
Susan Van Hoosen, CCWS, CHC, RYT-200

LHD Population Health Specialist

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