Social wellbeing is defined as the quality of our relationships with the people around us. Without it, we can feel isolated, lonely, and disconnected. This article will discuss social wellbeing and how you can maintain healthy relationships.
We are social creatures with an innate need to connect with others.
When we don’t have strong social relationships, our mental and physical health suffers.
A study conducted by Julianne Holt-Lunstad showed that social isolation, loneliness, and living alone increased the risk of premature death by 29%, 32%, and 50%, respectively.”
So it’s important to make sure we’re investing in our social wellbeing.
- What is social wellbeing?
- 4 Types of social wellbeing
- 5 Popular Theories of social wellbeing
- how is social wellbeing measured?
- Five activities you can do to improve your social well-being.
- Final thoughts on improving social wellbeing
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What is social wellbeing?
Social wellbeing pertains to having rich social interactions and developing positive relationships.
Social wellbeing is the glue that binds us together as human beings, and it’s vital for our mental and emotional health.
Social wellbeing allows individuals and groups to interact with each other in order to meet their needs and reach their potential.
It reflects one’s ability to communicate effectively with others, form close bonds, and maintain these ties.
People with strong social wellbeing feel like they belong in their community and can express themselves without reservations in social settings.
4 Types of social wellbeing
Social psychology experts have identified four types of social wellbeing.
1. Interpersonal social wellbeing – This is about having meaningful social relationships with people. It’s being able to share feelings and experiences without feeling judged.
2. Social identity social wellbeing – This is about finding a sense of belonging and being accepted by the people around you.
3. Cultural social wellbeing – This involves understanding and respecting cultural differences as well as embracing your own.
4. Community social wellbeing – This is when you feel connected to the people in your community and can actively contribute to it in a positive way
5 Popular Theories of social wellbeing
Psychological science theories of social wellbeing allow us to better understand how we relate to others and why it’s important. They also help to explain why individuals behave the way they do in various social situations.
1. Attachment theory – describes the bonds we form with caregivers in our early years. It suggests that social relationships are formed in early childhood and continue to shape our social wellbeing throughout life. Kids who are raised by a single parent or foster parents may experience difficulty forming secure attachments.
2. Social Identity Theory – This focuses on how individuals develop an identity within groups and strive for social validation. This suggests that our sense of self is largely based on how we identify with certain groups, such as our family or friends.
3. Social Exchange Theory – social exchange is a process by which social behaviour is guided by rewards and punishments, forming bonds of trust, respect and loyalty between people. This theory is the idea that people make decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis of their relationships with others.
4. Social Support Theory – social support measures social connectedness as social networks are believed to provide emotional, social and physical benefits.
5. Social Capital Theory – social capital is a measure of social wellbeing that looks at the social relationships, resources and networks people have access to. It can be used to assess social wellbeing in groups, organisations and communities.
how is social wellbeing measured?
While each individual’s ideal focus is cultivating positive emotions and building healthy relationships, how can we measure social wellbeing?
Here are four different ways:
- Surveys – social wellbeing can be measured through surveys that ask questions about personal relationships, social connections, and social engagement. Here’s one example of a social wellbeing survey conducted by Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.
- Quality of Life Measurements – social wellbeing can be measured by assessing an individual’s quality of life based on factors such as job satisfaction, health, financial security and leisure activities
- Social Network Analysis – social wellbeing can be measured by looking at an individual’s social network structure and the strength of their social relationships.
- Self-Report Measures – social wellbeing can be assessed through self-report measures such as questionnaires and interviews. Here’s one example of a wellbeing assessment developed at Western Michigan University.
Five activities you can do to improve your social well-being.
1. Get involved in your community
One way to feel more connected is to get involved in your community.
This could mean volunteering for a local charity or non-profit, attending community events, or even just striking up conversations with your neighbors.
When you get involved in social groups, you’ll meet new people, develop healthy support systems, gain emotional support, and feel like you’re part of something larger. Plus, helping others always feels good!
2. Join (or start) a club
If you have a hobby or interest that you want to explore further, consider joining a club related to that activity. Or, if there isn’t already a club for what you’re interested in, start one yourself!
Joining a club allows you to share your passions with like-minded people and deepen your knowledge of the subject matter. It’s also a great way to make new friends and improve social ties.
Broaden your horizons by traveling to new places, both near and far.
When you travel, you’ll encounter different cultures and ways of life that can challenge your assumptions and broaden your perspective. You’ll also meet new people who can introduce you to different perspectives and lifestyles.
Travel is an excellent way to learn more about yourself and the world around you. It’s also a fantastic way to expose yourself to new ideas and different aspects of life.
4. Foster healthy relationships with family and friends
As much as we live in a Western culture that focuses heavily on chasing goals and material wealth, research has shown that spending quality time with loved ones is crucial for improving self esteem, maintaining strong social relationships, and living longer.
Make an effort to stay in touch with family members and close friends, even if it’s just through text messages or quick phone calls. Regular contact and little check-ins can make a big difference in keeping your relationships strong.
Additionally, try to spend quality time together when possible by going on outings or hosting get-togethers at your home. Quality time spent with those you love will boost your mood and mental wellbeing.
5. Get a pet
Pets are known for their ability to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
They also provide companionship and unconditional love—two things that are essential for social wellbeing.
If you’re considering getting a pet, do some research first to find an animal that would fit your lifestyle and personality well.
Once you’ve found the perfect furry (or non-furry) friend, enjoy all the benefits of pet ownership and building strong connections with them!
Final thoughts on improving social wellbeing
Many activities can help improve our social well-being —it’s just a matter of finding what works best for us as individuals.
Social wellness is about more than just social activities, it’s also about how you think and feel about yourself in social situations.
It’s important to set realistic expectations for social relationships, practice positive social interactions, take care of yourself and reach out for help when needed.
Taking small social well-being steps can eventually lead to a healthier existence and life satisfaction.
Social wellbeing is an important part of living a happy and fulfilling life, so it’s important to nurture social relationships and take steps toward social wellness.
This article is part of How to be healthy – a guide for busy women.