A blog to bring awareness to the importance of social wellness
Being “social” is a concept most of us are familiar with. However, being invested in your social wellbeing is arguably overlooked by many. Research has emphasized the importance of social support as a protective barrier. The amount of positive physical and mental health outcomes accumulate as research on the topic pursues. A quick search on the subject will support my claims. This is partially why there is a whole month dedicated to social wellness in individuals’ lives. Nonetheless, if you are like me, you see these facts, acknowledge they are important, but never felt an urge to seek “social wellness” in your own life until it became an actual need.
I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and have been in therapy since I was 10-12 (I am 23 now). I know all about social support, why it is important, and the many benefits it has in an individual’s life. Therefore, I know that investing in your own social wellness is a literal part of investing in your overall health. Still, I found it easier to isolate myself and downplay the importance of seeking the social support I wanted in my life.
I am an introvert and I have a mental health condition that makes it extremely difficult for me to partake in relationships/connections with other individuals. This does not mean I do not want these connections. It just seems like a very daunting investment, and I end up convincing myself it would be more stressful to embark on that journey than to remain in the “known” zone of my isolated “comfort.”
My whole life I have only had the energy to have 1-2 connections outside of the relationships that are more involuntary in one’s life (family, school “connections,” basketball friends). The more involuntary relationships (for lack of better language) are important (and these people are important) for your social wellbeing. However, none of these were connections I actively sought and had to pursue. There is something different about connections with people you choose to have in your life. For me, the most obvious difference is the amount of effort and responsibility you can feel when acquiring these connections. Furthermore, if it ends up not working out, it can easily feel like a “failure.” Ultimately, the intimidation I felt behind seeking these connections led me to believing I did not “need” a lot of friends and that it would be a waste of time.
I struggled with this perception off and on because if you remember what I said, I still wanted those connections (and now know that I need them as well). It was not until this last 12 months or so that life started hitting me very hard. I lost the connection I had with my parents, I started experiencing a pile of unexpected expenses leading to me no longer being able to afford therapy, my sister passed away, and my best friend “broke up” with me as I was telling her the news about my sister. I felt extremely alone. I still have my boyfriend and little brother in my corner 100% and their support is so appreciated. However, these life events have forced me to truly value the importance of social wellness in my life. It has brought me to the realization that I do need connections and I need to invest in that part of my health just like I invest into my physical and mental health. I wanted to share some of my experience (very vaguely) with others because I urge everyone to reflect on their social wellness before they get to a point where they need that support and it isn’t there. During the month of July, make a new friend, explore a new hobby, or even investigate how to improve the relationships and connections you already have. Even just reflecting on what YOU need to establish social wellness in your life is a step in the right direction.
To search for additional support groups and resources near you, search here.