The global pandemic identified the impact of health and wellness for all, and this article from Amy Giddon on social wellness highlights what it means, and how to help it grow into a bigger movement.
July is social wellness month.
Although the World Health Organization has defined health in terms of physical, mental, and social wellness as far back as 1948, neither the concept nor the term was firmly planted in our cultural landscape until about 5 years ago, when the loneliness epidemic became more widely acknowledged. And still, even with the 31 days of July dedicated to it, there is not a consistent understanding of what social wellness actually is. The most common description I see is that social wellness is the quality of our closest social connections and the personal capacity to create and foster those intimate relationships.
There is no doubt that those relationships are essential to our wellbeing. There are myriad data demonstrating the physical and mental health benefits of social connection, including boosting our immune systems, staving off depression and anxiety, protecting our heart health, and bringing more joy and fulfillment to our lives. Conversely, loneliness and isolation have been linked to a variety of poor health outcomes, including an increased risk of early mortality.
Being able to nurture the relationships that support us is fundamental to our health. The relational skills such as listening, empathy, and accountability that allow for mutually supportive relationships to flourish are essential. We can’t be socially healthy without an intimate circle of people that feel like home: where we are known, loved, and accepted.
But is social wellness bigger?
To me, social wellness is being at home in my skin and at home in the world.
The past year and a half of social isolation made our world and social circles feel smaller in many ways. During quarantine, we had to choose who was in our bubble. While we grappled with the uncertainty and anxiety of the pandemic, we sought comfort in our nearest and dearest. We did everything we could to stay bonded while separated from our people. As we clung to our intimate circle our loose ties got looser. Physical distancing prevented us from seeing our fellow commuters, the person who walks their dog where we do, the friends of our friends, and the doorman at our office building.
Key points include:
- The power of compassion
- Social empathy
- Collective social wellness
Read the full article, Creating a Bigger Social Wellness Movement, on LinkedIn.