For the Sake of Connection: Social
People have been talking about wellness for a long time. I mean look at the page you are on now, we’ve created a whole platform surrounding the topic of wellness and recovery. It is well known that it’s important to take care of our physical health and mental health. And social well-being is no stranger to the health & wellness discussion.
The more connected we are to ourselves the more we are able to connect to others. And when you’re truly present for yourself, it’s easier to be present for someone else too. That’s why social wellness is so important!
We examine the following points throughout this post:
- What is Social Wellness
- Connecting in the Digital Age
- Behaviors Becoming Addictions
- Using Technology to Cope
- Social Connection Gut Check
- Dopamine Detox
- Social Wellness for Mental Health
- Self-Care with Others
- Healthy Relationships = Healthy Self-Esteem
- Creating a Balance
- Balancing Areas of Wellness
- Six Dimensions of Wellness
- Walking a Path of Social Wellness
Let’s get into how technology affects our relationships with others and offer up some tips about how you can create more meaningful connections in your life!
What is Social Wellness?
Social wellness, defined by Aetna Foundation, refers to a balance between an individual’s offline life with their online one by establishing limits and boundaries that allow them to have the best quality time possible when they are away from their screens – whether at work or elsewhere. Social wellness is the idea that every person needs to have a healthy balance between their online and offline lives.
Connecting in the Digital Age
We know that there are lots of ways to make connections with others, but technology has created a barrier between people. Social media has created an illusion that we are connected when in reality many people feel alone.
In the past, being physically present was a necessity in order for our relationships to thrive; now some experts argue that it’s possible to be less connected when you’re always “connected”. We can get lost in our phones, and consumed by the numerous hours of content our specific algorithms produce.
Our Behaviors Can Become Our Addictions
It is no secret that we are all known to be “glued to our phones”. And on our self-healing platform, you’ll learn it is no secret that our human behaviors tend to be easily adaptive to instant coping skills that result in temporary relief. At least for some of us, more than others (talking about myself here). But what does this really mean for all of us as we continue feeding into the behavior cycle of social media and apps right in the palm of our hands?
Behavior addiction is diagnosed if an individual has a compulsion to participate in these behaviors but experiences negative consequences as the result and still can’t bring themselves to stop (Li, 2020). Greater social media use, specifically night-time social media use, is associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression (O’Brien, 2011).
These types of behavioral addictions are closely related to substance abuse and addiction. With a substance or without, these behavioral cycles have much in common when it comes to addiction. A few commonalities to name are immediate gratification, procrastinating the necessary, unhealthy coping tactics, and masking emotions.
Using Technology to Cope
We know we will feel good at the moment we choose our phone over other priorities, but later comes the inevitable stress comes that we were trying to avoid. Similar to substance use disorders, behavioral addictions using technology are associated with a number of mental health issues. For example, more than 2 hours a day of screen time is found to be associated with emotional and behavioral problems in 5-year- old girls (O’Brien, 2011).
Technology is being used as a coping mechanism to escape one’s reality. As technology grows at an exponential rate, children are being exposed to using these devices more and more each day.
Social Connection Gut Check
There are many ways social well-being becomes disrupted – someone who never leaves work or spends all day at home alone would likely begin to feel isolated. However, there are many more subtle signs of a connection problem that can be easily identified.
These can include and are not limited to:
-Frequent use of social media as the main way to communicate with others
-Raising your voice or getting angry when someone doesn’t respond immediately to a message
-Losing touch with friends and family because they have moved away or you never see them in person anymore
-Feeling anxious about missing out on messages from online friends while offline
So how do we get back on track?
Our suggestion is: Take yourself out of this cycle by being of service to others. Make time for real-time, in-person (if possible), connection and kindness!
This is obviously hard with Covid lurking in our environment but as we continue to do what we can with vaccines, we can spend more time interacting face-to-face while continuing to social-distance. A recent study shows that helping others regulate their emotions helps us regulate our own emotions, decreases symptoms of depression, and improves our emotional well-being.
Making a conscious effort in being fully engaged in our conversations is proven to be beneficial to our health – not checking our phones or scrolling through social media feeds. Get out of yourself by doing something for another person and evaluate how you feel after.
Dopamine Detox [For Me]
I can often use technology as a coping mechanism in situations I do not want to take part in or those situations I feel stuck in. I also use technology as a habitual behavior of always having it on my person or constantly using it for work.
For these reasons, a dopamine detox is always a good idea! I never really thought of doing one until I came across a great video a few months ago by Niklas Christl. He experiments with some great research and tools to detox from dopamine sources like social media, porn, alcohol, music, and junk food for 7 days.
He speaks on how he recognized massive benefits like boosted productivity, mental clarity, and overall calmness. It is an awesome watch. We highly recommend it!
Additional ideas while doing a dopamine detox:
-Take a bath: Do some self-reflecting. Understand and identify what you are looking for out of friendships and connections.
-Read a book and sit in your favorite spot. Get your serotonin working for your benefit while you are taking a break from all the dopamine!
-Call your family to have an honest, thoughtful conversation with them.
-Go for a walk around the block to get some fresh air and clear your mind of any thoughts holding you back.
-Listen to music that reflects what mood you’re in.
-Look up quotes that resonate with how you feel at the moment and post them on social media if they make sense. Words can be powerful when we hear encouragement from others who are going through similar experiences.
The Importance of Social Wellness for your Mental Health
When we are connected to others and ourselves, we feel more peaceful, happy, and fulfilled.
Connection with those around us provides a sense of joy, comfort, and validation. It makes us feel safe. Studies have shown that connection to other people is one of the most important predictors for happiness, both in adulthood as well as childhood (Wellman et al., 2015). This connection has been linked with better emotional adjustment and higher levels of life satisfaction or pleasure. It’s also tightly related to lower incidences of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and loneliness – all things that can lead to poorer health outcomes like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. (Wellman et al., 2015).
Relationships can be stressful at times but the truth is relationships that are meaningful to us make it easier for us to cope with difficult emotions like anger or sadness.
When people withdraw connection from themselves and others they find themselves feeling anxious, depressed, or irritated much more often than before. This is why conditioning your own social behavior such as Community Reinforcement Approach is such a powerful method of healing for those struggling with addiction. The reinforcement of being social and relating positive experiences with a sense of community.
When relationships fail to provide the necessary amounts of connection, it’s common for people to turn to their addictive behavior as a coping mechanism. Lack of social well-being has been linked with higher rates of mortality– both mental health-related deaths as well as overall mortality. Like anything, a lack of social connection can spiral deeper into a dangerous area of isolation if we are not careful and honest with those around us. I have personally felt this first hand in the past. Feeling as if it would be better to be alone when in all reality we are hurting ourselves and others by doing so.
Self-Care Activities that Include Connecting with Others
It is easy to push ourselves into isolation without realizing it. Especially since we’ve been given the circumstances of 2020. The pandemic has been hard on everyone which is why we are more vulnerable to feelings and emotions that often lead to exhaustion, burn-out and worse.
We all need some downtime from time to time so that we can recharge our batteries and get back on track to living our fullest life. Taking care of ourselves does not mean sitting around and telling no one.
It means taking action on self-care. Speaking out to someone about what you are feeling before it escalates. It is a helpless feeling when we enter into a dangerous spot with our mental health or into an active spiral of addiction.
Simple acts we can do to engage in self-care:
1. Meditating with an accountability partner. Check out our 28-day course to join the meditation challenge and get an accountability partner!
2. Taking a nice walk on a break with a co-worker.
3. Cooking a meal together with a friend.
4. Sharing laughter with someone.
5. Doing guided meditation before bedtime with a partner.
6. Doing yoga poses or stretching with others.
How Do Healthy Relationships Help Self-Esteem?
It is important to have healthy relationships in order for a person’s self-esteem to flourish.
There are many facets of a relationship that lead to self-esteem: feelings and emotions, mental health, connection with others, physical health and wellness, as well as safety or stability. Healthy relationships ensure all these facets are attended to and have solid boundaries where needed.
Unhealthy relationships may push someone into isolation or cause mental distress over time. When we feel like someone cares about us it goes a long way towards fostering better moods and supporting our outlook on life overall.
This allows extroverts or outgoing individuals the chance to be their best selves without worrying about other people’s opinions because they know they’re being loved from within (and not just by external validation). And with that care comes flourishing self-esteem.
Introverts, on the other hand, may feel a strong need for solitude or the desire to be alone, but having a healthy social life doesn’t mean skipping out on time by oneself. Introverts can find introversion a source of strength when they have learned how to identify what their strengths are in a social setting. If you are an introvert (like myself), do what makes you most comfortable. Move with those who lift you up and keep you smiling.
Creating A Balance
An important point to make here is balance. Some people make a fuss about balance and how it’s unattainable, but let’s not be dramatic. Listening to our individual needs and making sure we speak out about what feels right and what doesn’t is vital — and that requires an act of balance.
Communicate with those who care about you before feeling overwhelmed or getting to a mental breaking point. This is something I have personally struggled with. A strong takeaway I’ve learned in the past was my need to communicate with others when I am upset or need help before it is too late or gets blown out of proportion. When a person’s needs are being addressed, we will feel more connected to each other and more at ease with whatever we are going through.
Balancing Areas of Wellness
When friendships and relationships are balanced and have proper boundaries in place, the setup can predict a healthy social life. We need to be able to add to the balance of other wellness areas in our life. Such as feelings and emotions within ourselves, connecting with others in an effort to keep mental health on a more even keel while also looking for ways of fitting physical activity into one’s life as well. Assessing each category of wellness is wise if someone is looking to make a major life change such as quitting alcohol or substance abuse. So what are these areas and how can they narrow down and give us insight into what we need to pay attention to?
Six Dimensions of Wellness
Developed by Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute (NWI), this interdependent model for the Six Dimensions of Wellness provides resources and services for the following defined categories:
- Social health is the quality of relationships with friends, family, and others around you.
- Spiritual health is maintaining a harmonious relationship with other living things. It means having a sense of spiritual direction and purpose which includes living by one’s morals, values, and ethics.
- Physical health is in accordance with how your body is functioning. A person’s stress levels, food intake, regular exercise. Good quality of physical health refers to being free of disease and avoiding harmful substances.
- Mental health is the ability to recognize reality and cope with the demands of everyday life.
- Emotional health is expressing your emotions in a positive, constructive way allowing room for growth and new perspectives.
- Occupational health is one’s attitude about one’s work. The feeling of contributing your unique gifts, skills, and talents to work is both personally meaningful and rewarding.
Walking a Path of Social Wellness
Dr. Hettler says “As you travel a (social) wellness path, you’ll become more aware of your importance in society as well as the impact you have on multiple environments. You’ll take an active part in improving our world by encouraging healthier living and initiating better communication with those around you. You’ll actively seek ways to preserve the beauty and balance of nature along the pathway as you discover the power to make willful choices to enhance personal relationships and important friendships, and build a better living space and community.”
The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to healthy relationships is what we’re doing when alone. Check in with our moral principles and core values. The age-old integrity question of “Would you do it if no one was watching?” or the more new-age question of “Are you the person who returns their shopping cart?”
Will you act more mindfully throughout your day with the awareness that your actions in society impact the environment we live in? The environment we live in impacts our chances of falling prey to addiction. Positive actions to improve our environment can be simply finding sustainable activities like meditation, taking a nice walk in nature, or cooking a healthy meal for friends. All of these activities can help us nourish our minds so that self-esteem feels fulfilling. If we can find peace and happiness in the actions we take on our own, we will find more fulfillment in the relationships we have outside of ourselves.
Some people are intuitively more social and have a natural sense of balance to know when they need alone time. Others can be more introverted in nature and gain more energy when they have time alone. It is important to listen to one’s own body and understand which type of person you are. Then we can get the individualized support or self-care needed in order to get back on track with feeling like ourselves again.
Connecting with others is one of the most important steps in our journey to healing. Whether we have anxiety from too much connection or depression from not enough connection, a balance in your relationships should be something to work toward.
With a spiritual approach and the right tools to retrain your brain – You have the power to transform your life and habits significantly. Satori Way is here to help set the stage with what is right for you, join us as a free member, and check out our 5-day course here!
“The Social Wellness Challenge” Aetna Foundation (accessed 07 Aug 2021). Retrieved from apa.org/pubs/journals/web_articles/apa_archives/?article=AFA&volume=130&issue=12000210
Hettler, B. (2021). Six Dimensions of Wellness | National Wellness Institute. Retrieved 12 August 2021, from https://nationalwellness.org/resources/six-dimensions-of-wellness/
Over nearly 80 years, Harvard study has been showing how to live a healthy and happy life. (2021). Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/
Wellman, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 07 Oct. 2015. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00560/full