Did you know that July is Social Wellness Month? After a year of constantly being told not to socialize with other people and to keep our physical distance from others, there may be questions as to “why should I be social” or “how can I be social” or even “how do I manage my anxiety and worry when I’m trying to be social?” Keep reading to learn a little bit of how you can get back to being social.
Being social is a vital piece of self-care and plays a role in your physical, mental, and emotional health. Thankfully our world is beginning to feel safer to be social.
Why be social:
- Being social with others has a positive effect on our physical health, in that people who are social, often respond better to stress and in turn experience a decrease in their cortisol levels. In addition, having a healthy and supportive social network also decreases your chances of coronary heart disease (Voltorta, et. al., 2016)
- Being social also benefits your mental health in that you are less likely to feel lonely and experience depressive and anxiety symptoms
- Another perk, if you are in a couple relationship, couples who have a positive social support system, also experience a higher quality and stability in their relationship (Karney & Bradbury, 1995).
Feeling nervous about being social:
Feeling nervous or anxious is normal to be experiencing, especially after a year of being told not to be in contact with anyone. Something that can help your anxiety is first figuring out what helps you feel comfortable around others. Think of the following examples:
- Being fully vaccinated and being around others who are also fully vaccinated.
- Perhaps socializing in spaces that are outside.
- Continuing to engage in healthy practices like washing your hands, not touching your face, not sharing drinks, using hand sanitizer after touching highly trafficked areas, or wearing your mask in closed/busy areas.
It’s okay to take care of yourself when being social, and if there are certain practices that help you feel safe, then do that.
Ways to be social:
Here are some quick ways you can be social starting today!
- Volunteer for something that you care about. Building your support system and social network with like-minded people can be a healthy and positive way to keep you motivated and doing things that you enjoy
- Visit a friend or a family member that you haven’t spent time with. Is that a grandparent, your parents, a childhood friend, or that person you tell happy birthday to on Facebook and constantly end with “we should meet up soon.” Whoever it is, make time and put it in your calendar to sit down with someone to connect with.
- Join a group: Creating new relationships is always fun! Think of hobbies you enjoy or perhaps want to try out and find a local group you can join. Introduce yourself when you get there and be yourself.
- Take your four-legged friend for a walk at a park or on a hike. Connections do not always have to be with humans.
How will you be social this month and in the future?
Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1995). The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, methods, and research. Psychological bulletin 118(1), 3.
Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K, McGuir, L., Robles, T. F, Glaser, R. (2002). Emotions, Morbidity, and Mortality: New Perspectives from Psychoneuroimmunology Annual Review of Psychology.53 83–107.
Valtorta, N. K, Kanaan, M., Gilbody, S, Ronzi S, hanratty, B. (2016). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies. Heart 102, 1009-1016.
Priscilla specializes in working with clients to overcome feelings of anxiety and worry by teaching them effective coping skills. Priscilla utilizes research-based techniques to help couples and individuals maintain healthy and happy relationships. Learn more on how you can enhance your relationship today.