– Amy Kate
It surprises some people to know that wellness isn’t just about physical and mental health. Social and relational wellbeing is also an aspect of ourselves that contributes to our overall health and wellness!
It also surprises some that social wellness isn’t measured by the amount of friends you have on facebook, or followers on instagram…
Taking time to consider our relationships (and perhaps notice some patterns that exist) is a great place to start when considering your social and relational wellness. It can be easier said than done so here are some ideas, derived from the findings of Umberson, Chen, House, Hopkins & Slaten in 1996 (the study may be older but the ideas are still relevant now)!
Get active, socially active!
Despite the age-old myth that men and women differ in this regard, social relationships are important for everyone’s wellbeing. Here are some ideas to help you stay socially active:
Mindfully build your friendships. Think about your friendships. Are you happy with them? Would you like more meaningful connections with others or are you happy with the level of connection you currently have? Are there some people you shouldn’t be friends with anymore, friends who have passed their expiry date in your life? Hopefully you have a few people in your life that after you hang out with them, you feel better. Who are they? Spend some more time with them!
Get on your hobby horse! Not literally, unless that’s your thing. I’m talking about joining a club that centres on a hobby you have (or a hobby you want to develop). Perhaps it is a fun dancing troupe, maybe a sports team, a scrapbooking group, a colouring in club, a parenting group, or even a gardening team!
Text someone. We all have these days. It could be once per year for some, and for others it is their daily life. On these days, we aren’t going out to socialise and see friends. We just aren’t feeling up to it. But the need for connection is still there – niggling away in the background. So text someone! It could be your partner, your mum, your brother or your bestie. Call them, email them, Facebook message them, snapchat them, whatever means of communication you have – get on it.
Help someone else
Helping others and being kind-hearted is a wellbeing immune booster. So dose up! These are some kindness ideas you might love:
Volunteering for an organisation that excites you is also a great way to build your social connections with like-minded people. Finding something you’re so crazy passionate about that you will volunteer your time is a powerful thing. Finding others who are in the same boat – well, that’s your tribe! Volunteering doesn’t have to be an ongoing thing, it can be for a once-off project so if you’re a commitment-phobe, this can still work for you!
Give someone a genuine compliment. Sprinkle a bit of love everywhere you go, like a trail of smiles behind you.
Help the old lady cross the street. Okay there isn’t always an old lady or a street involved but you know what I mean. If you see someone who needs a hand, help them out. It may be a co-worker needing a stapler, or someone struggling with a trolley with particularly misaligned wheels in the supermarket. Being polite and smiling is helping others and being super nice – after all, smiles are contagious!
Know what to do when someone bowls over your boundaries.
Where would you fit between doormat and always-angry-lady. Perhaps you’re closer to the doormat side, or closer to the angry-lady, or maybe you’re smack bang in the middle and loving it? As great as being a nice persona is, feeling like a doormat where people use you and then leave is not good for your mental health. Being the angry-lady someone knows is also not good for your mental health (your cortisol levels will be sky high which is not sustainable). Here are some tips to develop conflict resolution skills and assertiveness skills (not aggressiveness skills) to help you build your own wellbeing.
Think first, and then use your words. What is it that you would like the other person to do (or stop doing)? Okay, now think about how you can say that with authentic love. Instead of “Can you not talk to me right now”, perhaps try “I feel like I’m not taking in what you’re saying right now. I had a super stressful day, could I come back to you in 10 minutes because I really want to hear what you’re saying.”
Be willing to compromise. Listen to the other person’s perspective. Sometimes this can be very enlightening. We tend to assume we know why people do certain things, forgetting that they are their own person with their own history and way of thinking. Giving someone time to share their piece is powerful and can be very refreshing for a relationship.
Be assertive (not aggressive). Standing up for your own rights and beliefs, while valuing others’ opinions without letting them rule you is an incredible skill. Being assertive is all about listening, compromising and being respectful. The other trick is to know what you want and what you will/won’t compromise on (which is why you really need to think about it first). You may need to explain ‘why’ to the other person so they are able to also see from your perspective.
Let us know if these tips help you get through stressful times! Tune in to what works for you.
Comment below to let us know which ideas you will be trying and share on social media to help other women learn about their bare minimums!
Umberson, Chen, House, Hopkins and Slaten, (1996). The Effect of Social Relationships on Psychological Well-Being: Are Men and Women Really So Different? American Sociological Review, 61(5), pp. 837-857.