Social wellness involves developing a strong sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system. Most people find that their quality of life improves as the number of quality relationships increases. When people feel connected and supported, they are happier and healthier.
To understand why it’s important to work on social wellness, it helps to consider the opposite: social isolation. Social isolation occurs when someone is removed from society or cut off from meaningful interactions with others.
People may experience social isolation for different reasons:
Think of someone who has just moved to a new city or a person who has lost his or her spouse after many years of marriage. Whatever the reason for social isolation, research shows it can have devastating effects on the body.
Studies have shown that experiencing long periods of time without communicating with others can lead to physical deterioration at faster rates than those who are socially engaged.
Being able to effectively communicate is an important part of building relationships with others and maintaining them over time. The first step in developing effective communication skills is actively listening to what other people have to say.
Communication doesn’t just involve words; in fact, about 90% of our communication comes from nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions.
After all, you don’t want your friends to resent you because you always catch them in a bad mood!
Improve Communication Skills
Start by being a good listener. Being a good listener is an important social skill because it allows you to get the most out of your conversations with others. To be a good listener, you must be able to pay attention, understand, and remember what the other person has said. As you practice listening more effectively, you will become more aware of how well your communication skills are working for you.
Practice being a good conversationalist by asking questions that show that you have been paying attention to the other person’s words and actions. Try not to get stuck in repetitive or boring conversations—instead, look for opportunities to ask deeper or better questions that can help boost the quality of your conversation.
You might even try having a few topics or questions in mind before starting a conversation so that if an awkward silence occurs, you’ll have something interesting and engaging to talk about instead!
Once you learn how to listen carefully when someone speaks directly at you, start learning how best to communicate nonverbally (through gestures) with others around them as well! This includes using hand signals like pointing towards things they want which helps young children develop language skills but also understanding body language like smiling which conveys emotion without words.
However, some people may use eye contact instead so try different techniques depending on who’s communicating with during certain situations such as work meetings where everyone should probably look at each other rather than just one person talking all day long.”
How to begin a conversation with someone you don’t know well
STARTING A CONVERSATION: Start by asking some friendly, general questions. Ask someone about their day or what they’ve been up to lately. You can also ask them about their hobbies or interests, or make a comment about the weather. It’s good to avoid topics that are too controversial, such as politics and religion, unless you know for sure that your conversation partner shares many of your opinions on those subjects.
Try to focus on finding common ground instead of debating differences. When you do enter into a disagreement with someone, remember that there’s typically more than one way to look at a given situation or topic, so try not to get overly emotional.
KEEPING A CONVERSATION GOING: Once you’ve started talking with someone, keep the conversation going by asking follow-up questions based on their initial responses. If they mention having gone hiking with friends over the summer, for example, ask where they went and how long it took them to get there.
If they say their favorite sport is tennis and you play tennis too, share some of your experiences playing tennis with them and see if they’d be interested in joining you next time you play! Make sure not to ask too many questions at once though—you want both people involved in the conversation as much as possible so it doesn’t seem like an interrogation!
ENDING A CONVERSATION: Ending a conversation can be awkward for some people because we want everyone involved in our conversation (or at least ourselves) to feel comfortable when we leave; this means not just abruptly leaving without saying anything else first but also giving an indication of when we’ll be back again if necessary!
In order to accomplish these things while still being polite enough not to overstay our welcome – always offer something like “It was nice talking with you” before ending any exchange between two individuals who aren’t known well enough yet (friends).
Understand your social needs
Understanding your own social needs will help you find the right balance between the need for social interaction and the need for alone time. This may mean different things to different people—to one person, “social” may mean being around loved ones, while another person might prefer more of a solo experience with only their significant other and close family members.
Once you understand your own social needs, it’s time to look at others’ needs as well. Social norms can vary greatly from group to group—and even these norms are highly subjective.
For instance, if someone says that they “need” a lot of social interaction in order to sustain themselves mentally and emotionally, this could mean that they want a close-knit family unit with frequent get-togethers and lots of activities; or it could mean that they want an expansive network of contacts through which to communicate on a regular basis.
Talk to each other like real humans
While it may come naturally to you, many people have trouble opening up to others and sharing their feelings. If you want to be more social, you should be aware of the language barriers that are unintentionally created.
First, if you want someone else to open up about what’s going on inside of them, speak in a friendly tone. If you walk around with your arms crossed or scowl at people when they talk to you, this will create a barrier between yourself and others.
Be conscious of the words that come out of your mouth. Avoid sarcasm and teasing other people because it can be jarring for someone who is trying to confide in you. Ask questions that encourage them to elaborate instead of asking one-word questions or not responding at all.
Lastly, use body language as a way for someone else to feel heard. Maintain eye contact with the person who is talking and try not to mirror their stance (for example, if they stand with their arms crossed over their chest like they are protecting themselves from the world–do not stand like this as well). Mirroring someone’s body language is subconsciously done but acknowledging it can make a huge difference in how much someone wants to connect with you.
Practice empathy and understanding
Empathy is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Understanding the feelings of another person helps us form stronger connections, which can lead to greater happiness and satisfaction in our relationships.
Listening is a key part of empathy. Learning to listen closely—not just to what’s being said, but also to the meaning and intent behind it—allows you to truly understand someone else’s point of view.
To practice listening:
- Ask a friend or family member to tell you a story about something important that happened in their life.
- Ask them questions about their experience so that they can provide more detail. For example: “How did you feel when your grandmother died?” or “What was going through your mind when you first started working with your food poisoning?”
Developing strong relationships can help you live a happier, healthier life.
The importance of strong relationships extends to all spheres of your life, including family, friends, colleagues, and even pets. A 2014 study from the University of Oxford found that people who had strong social bonds were 50% more likely to live longer than their peers with weaker relationships.
Another study published in 2015 by Brigham Young University found that married couples were about 20% happier and less stressed than unmarried individuals. As you can see, having positive relationships is so important for your health and happiness that it can even help you live longer!
Numerous studies have shown that love and companionship are key factors in improving one’s mental health. In fact, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that people with strong relationships are far better off than those without; in many cases, they have lower blood pressure, a faster recovery rate after sickness or surgery, and more robust immune systems.
The frequent contact involved in maintaining these bonds helps keep depression at bay as well—in one study conducted by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child nearly 80 percent of depressed adults cited loneliness as a contributing factor to their condition.