What Is Social Health? Examples, And 7 Tips On How To Achieve It

Last Updated
November 24, 2023

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What Is Social Health?
Social health is like being part of a great team, where you and your friends, family, and classmates support and care for each other. It's about having good friendships, getting along well with people, and feeling like you belong in your group at school or in your neighborhood. It means you can talk easily with others, share your feelings, and listen to them too.

Examples of Social Anxiety
- Strong support from family and friends
- Open communication with others
- Comfort in social settings
- A sense of belonging in a community
- Balancing personal and social time
- Adapting to different social situations
- Building and keeping friendships
- Setting healthy relationship boundaries
- Enjoying life's fun moments

Improve Your Social Health
- Talk it out
- Make time for friends and family
- Join a club or group
- Get involved in your community
- Don't be afraid to reach out
- Be present
- Set some ground rules

What is social health, and why is it so crucial for our overall well-being? It's no secret that humans are social creatures. We need interaction with others to survive and thrive. In fact, our mental and physical health depends on it.

Social isolation can lead to a host of mental health problems, including depression, sleeplessness, and even suicide. You could be eating the healthiest diet and exercising regularly, but if you're not socially healthy, your overall health will suffer. [1]

With the current state of the world, it's more important than ever to focus on our social health. But what is social health?

What is Social Health?

Social health is defined as “the ability to interact with others in a way that enhances individual and collective wellbeing.” In other words, it’s the ability to create and maintain meaningful relationships.

Social health encompasses everything from our relationships with family and friends to our connections with co-workers and strangers. Research shows that social health can positively impact physical health, mental health, and even longevity. [2] Sociologists have found that social health was a better predictor of mortality than smoking, obesity, or even high blood pressure.

However, social health is not all about having many friends or being popular on social media. It’s about having healthy relationships with the people around you and feeling connected to your community. And if you're someone How To Make Friends When You Have Social Anxiety.

Friends coming to an agreement in a post about 'what is social health'

Examples of Good Social Health

  • Having a strong supportive network of family and friends.
  • Being able to communicate with others openly.
  • Feeling comfortable in social situations.
  • Being part of a community and feeling a sense of belonging.
  • Balancing your social and personal time
  • Adapting to social situations 
  • Ability to develop and maintain friendships and networks
  • Creating boundaries in relationships
  • Having fun in life  

Among other things, social health includes having a strong supportive network of family and friends, being able to communicate with others openly, and feeling comfortable in social situations. Understanding the benefits of therapy, as discussed in The Surprising Benefits Of Seeing An Online Therapist, can also be a key component in maintaining good social health.

Why Is Social Health Important?

While physical and mental health is often at the forefront of people's minds, social health is equally essential for overall wellbeing.

There are many reasons why social health is important. For one, it can help to reduce stress and anxiety. When you have strong relationships, you feel supported and connected, leading to better mental health.

Additionally, social health can improve physical health. Studies have shown that people with strong social ties are more likely to lead healthier lifestyles and care for themselves. They are also more likely to recover from illness or injury more quickly.[3]

Finally, social health is vital for emotional wellbeing. When you feel connected to others, you feel happier and more fulfilled. You also have a sense of purpose and belonging, which can contribute to a sense of satisfaction with life. In short, social health is essential for a happy and healthy life.

Effects of Poor Social Wellness

Poor social health can lead to negative consequences. For instance, dealing with social anxiety, especially in educational settings, can be a major challenge. The article How To Deal With Social Anxiety At School offers valuable strategies for managing this issue.

Numerous studies have found that social isolation and loneliness can contribute to physical and mental health issues. Socially isolated individuals are at an increased risk of developing severe health issues. The study found that people who reported feeling isolated had a 32% increased risk of stroke and a 29% increased risk of heart disease. Those with more social connections have healthier habits (such as not smoking or drinking).[4]

To further see how deadly loneliness can be, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that "chronic loneliness can have the same impact on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day."[5]

While social isolation and loneliness are not the same, they are closely related. Social isolation is a lack of social contact, while loneliness is the feeling that one is alone. People can be socially isolated but not feel lonely and vice versa.

Health issues linked with poor social health include:

  • Heart failure
  • Chronic disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mobility issues
  • High blood pressure 
  • Depression 
  • Cognitive decline 
  • Dementia
  • Cancer
Being social versus being not social, in a post about 'what is social health'

Mental Health Vs. Social Health

For many people, the terms "mental health" and "social health" are interchangeable. However, there is a big difference between the two. Mental health refers to our emotional and psychological well-being. It is how we think, feel, and cope with stress.

On the other hand, social health is about our relationships with others. It is how we interact with family, friends, and strangers. Both mental and social health are important for our daily lives. A healthy mind helps us make good decisions, while a strong social network provides support and encouragement.

However, when one or both of these aspects of our health are out of balance, it can lead to problems. And if you're already struggling with your mental health, we suggest online therapy.

How to Determine Social Health

Trying to determine if someone has good social health can be tricky. There are no blood tests or brain scans that can give us a definitive answer. However, thinking about social health in terms of our relationships can be helpful. Healthy relationships are built on trust, respect, and communication. They are also flexible and, both parties feel comfortable expressing their needs and feelings.

One way to determine social health is by looking at the number and quality of relationships a person has—the amount of time they spend interacting with others.

People who have healthy relationships with family and friends tend to be more socially healthy than those who do not.

Additionally, people involved in activities that promote social interaction tend to be more socially healthy. Some activities that promote social interaction include volunteering, participating in sports, and attending community events.

If you're not sure if your relationships are healthy, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have close friends that I can rely on?
  • Do I feel like I belong to a community or social group?
  • Do I have difficulty making or keeping friends?
  • Do I feel socially isolated or lonely?
  • Do I enjoy my interactions with others?
  • Do I feel supported by a network of close friends?

Considering all of these factors make it possible to get a good sense of someone's social health.

Tips on How to Improve Your Social Health

Nowadays, we're all so busy with work and other commitments that it's easy to let our social lives fall by the wayside.

It's never too late to start working on your social health. If you're feeling a bit isolated, there are things you can do to improve your social health. Below are seven tips on how you can start working on your social health today:

Talk it Out

Communication is key in all meaningful relationships, whether with friends, family, or romantic partners. If you can communicate your thoughts and feelings effectively, you're more likely to develop strong, lasting, and positive interpersonal relationships.

Shelley Sommerfeldt, a clinical psychologist in California, says that "communication is important because it fosters trust and connection... In order to have an open, honest, and vulnerable relationship with our partner, we must be able to freely communicate in a healthy manner." [6]

However, communication involves more than just speaking. It also includes active listening, which means paying attention to what others are saying and trying to understand their point of view. When you patiently listen to someone, it shows that you value their opinion and that you're interested in what they have to say. Honing your communication skills can help you build healthy relationships. 

A family being affectionate with each other in a post about 'what is social health'

Make time for friends and family

When life gets hectic, we may put friendships and family relationships on the back burner. But quality time is crucial for maintaining strong social ties. Dedicate a regular chunk of time each week (or month) to catching up with loved ones – whether over dinner, drinks, coffee, or just a good old-fashioned phone call.

Join a club or group

Some people find making friends a big challenge. If you're shy or introverted, it may be helpful to get involved in a club or group where you can meet like-minded people. Find an activity that interests you: a book club, hiking group, sports team, or cooking class. Doing something you enjoy will make it easier to meet people and develop rewarding interpersonal relationships.

A community coming together to grow plants in a post about 'what is social health'

Get involved in your community

One way to meet new friends and expand your social circle is to get involved in your community. Volunteer for a local charity or non-profit, join a neighborhood watch program or participate in city planning initiatives.

Not only will you feel good about giving back, but you'll also have an opportunity to form new meaningful relationships with people who share your values.

Don't be afraid to reach out

If you're feeling isolated and alone, it can be tempting to stay home and avoid social interactions altogether. But the truth is, the only way to make new friends is by putting yourself out there and taking some risks. So next time you're at a party or networking event, try striking up a conversation with someone new instead of hanging back and staying in your comfort zone. You never know where it might lead!

Be present

When you're with other people, make an effort to be present and engaged in the conversation. That means putting away your phone, making eye contact, and actively listening to what the other person says. This will make you a better communicator. It'll also help you form healthy bonds with the people you care about.

Set Some Ground Rules

When it comes to socializing, it's vital to set some healthy boundaries for yourself. First, ask yourself how much time you're willing to spend on social activities each week. Then, decide what kinds of activities you're interested in and commit to participating in them regularly. Let your loved ones know what you're comfortable sharing about yourself and what you'd prefer to be kept secret.

There are plenty of other ways to improve your social wellness. Remember to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to friendships and relationships. Instead of amassing a large group of acquaintances, focus on building close friendships with a few people you can trust and rely on.

It's also important to be realistic about your expectations. Socializing can be enjoyable, but it's not always easy. You may have to put in some effort to find friends and build relationships. However, the effort is often worth it. Establishing strong social connections has been linked with better mental and physical health, so it's definitely worth the investment.

The Negative Side of Social Relationships 

While social relationships can have a lot of positive effects on our daily lives, it's important to be aware of the potential downside as well. After all, not all social interactions are going to be positive. 

While discussing the challenges of social health, it's crucial to acknowledge the impact of unhealthy romantic attachments on your social health, as detailed in Strategies On How To Overcome Love Addiction.

Bad Influences 

We've all had friends who were a bad influence. Maybe they convinced us to do things we knew we shouldn't, or they brought out the worst in us. If you find yourself in a bad social setting, it's crucial to be able to recognize it and remove yourself from the situation if necessary.

It can be challenging to know when to walk away from a friendship, but sometimes it's necessary. If someone consistently puts you in situations that make you feel uncomfortable, it's probably time to move on.

Toxic Relationships

Everyone has probably had at least one toxic relationship in their life. You know the type: it starts out great, but then something happens to change the dynamic. Suddenly, your partner is possessive, controlling, and negative.

They may try to separate you from your friends and family, or they may make you feel like you're walking on eggshells all the time. If you're in a toxic relationship, it's important to reach out for help. You can talk to a family member, or a trusted friend, or seek professional counseling. Getting support can make a world of difference.

Emotional Drainage

People in close intimate relationships often have to deal with strong emotions, such as anger, jealousy, and fear. You may feel like you're always the one giving and never receiving. This can lead to resentment and negative feelings towards the other person.

Time-consuming

It can be extremely time-consuming to maintain relationships. It's common for people to spend hours keeping up with their friends and family members every day. This can lead to less time for other activities, such as work or hobbies. Maintaining a healthy relationship can also be quite demanding and often require a lot of effort. If you're not careful, it's easy to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of trying to please others. 

Ultimately, while social relationships are an important part of life, we strike a balance so that they don't take over all other aspects of our daily lives.

In conclusion

It's clear that social health is essential for a happy and healthy life. So make sure to nurture your relationships, stay connected with others, and find ways to feel like you belong. By following the six tips we've outlined in this post, you'll not only improve your social wellness but will create a social environment that supports your physical and emotional wellbeing. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

FAQs

What are the factors affecting social health?

On an individual level, social health is affected by personality, self-esteem, social skills, and dispositions towards others. External factors such as life's challenges, economic status, and cultural background can also play a role.

What are the benefits of healthy relationships?

Social health has physical, mental, and emotional benefits. When we have healthy social relationships, it helps us to recover from illness more quickly, and even lengthen our life expectancy. In addition, good social wellness helps build self-confidence, keep our brains active and protect against cognitive decline.

How do you develop social health?

Firstly, learn good communication skills. Secondly, spend time with loved ones and close friends. Thirdly, give back to your community by joining social activities or groups that interest you. Lastly, accept others for who they are.

References

  1. Pubmed: Relationship Between Loneliness, Psychiatric Disorders and Physical Health
  2. Inc.Africa: Loneliness Is a Growing Epidemic
  3. Pubmed; Modeling Social Influences on Human Health
  4. National Academies; Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults
  5. NIH; Do Social Ties Affect Our Health?
  6. Loving Project; Loving Roots Project

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