As promised in my last post, I will be detailing the eight wellness essentials outlined in that post one by one. The first area of wellness to live a life of vitality is all about having a strong social support including friends, family and community groups. Spending time with friends and enjoying the company of others provides a tremendous amount of benefit to our lives.
From the wellness perspective, having a strong social support creates the best circumstances to live a long, healthy and happy life. When you share the company of friends, you might share a meal, a shopping venture, a walk, an experience or even a good cry. The benefit to your health comes in the process of sharing, of feeling connected, supported, heard and cared for. Having a support system where you can be your authentic self allows you to feel safe, valuable and secure.
By nature, we are social creatures. We have a need to create a sense of safety in our lives, and a solid social support offers just that. When you find your tribe, the people who unconditionally love and accept you, you feel supported, cared for and you can give yourself permission to be you. This can be a challenge to find as so many of us show up to life with a lot of social anxiety. This anxiety will cause you to worry about what people think about you, you may fear that you will be judged and this can cause you to feel as though you have to be *perfect* in order for people to want to be around you.
When you are ready to reconcile your perfectionism, release your anxiety and just be you. Inevitably, your social life will open up in a positive way. When this occurs you no longer attempt to hide behind perfectionism or people pleasing and you can be your true self. When you allow yourself to relax and become more confident in social circumstances, you become a better and better version of yourself through your relationships. In our current culture more and more people are connecting through social media outlets and yet more and more people are expressing feelings of isolation and loneliness. We all long for genuine, nonjudgmental connection.
If you find that you are feeling more isolated and lonely when it comes to a social network, know that there is always an opportunity to grow and expand into a social support that will be beneficial for you. If social anxiety is crippling for you, it might be helpful to seek additional support to work through your fears and automatic responses when it comes to social situations so that you can create more opportunities to expand both your social support and to feel more confident and less anxious. If you do not feel that you have overwhelming social anxiety but have become isolated for other reasons, there are many things you can do today to begin to grow your social support.
Having a strong social support is a wellness essential, and what that looks like, just like any wellness journey is absolutely personal to you. For one person it may feel best to have a small, tight group of friends where others may prefer to have a variety of friends across many social experiences. There is no wrong way to grow in your social support! If you feel as though you have a strong social support and feel really good about the relationships you currently have, then take some time to reach out to those people and let them know how important and meaningful their relationship is to you. If you feel as though you’d like to grow socially and strengthen your current or potential social connections, I put together the following list to help you think about how to expand your social outlet in a way that feels nurturing and healthy for you.
Try one or more of the following to grow your social support today:
-Take an in-person class on a topic that interests you
-Host a dinner party for an organization you are already a part of
-Join a book club
-Join a Meetup group
-Go to an event that sounds interesting to you and talk to one person you don’t know
-Go to a community meeting/religious service/open house event… and talk to one person you don’t know
-If you have kids, have a play date for your kids whose parents you’d like to get to know better
-Call an old friend that you haven’t talked to in a while and catch up
-Participate in a committee at your work, kid’s school, in the community…
-Get your friends together for a potluck this weekend
From the list, what feels doable? What feels as though it would help you grow and strengthen your social support? When you try one, notice the impact of creating meaningful connections on how you feel about yourself.