Social Wellness: Building Strong Connections for a Balanced Life

Social Wellness: Building Strong Connections for a Balanced Life

July 13, 2023

Veterinary professionals tend to be so dedicated and focused on the care of animals that they often overlook an important aspect of their overall well-being—social wellness. Social wellness refers to the quality and depth of our relationships, the sense of belonging we feel, and the support network we have in our lives. It plays a significant role in our happiness and can greatly impact our mental, emotional, and physical health. 

Human beings are inherently social creatures. We thrive when we feel connected to others and have a sense of belonging. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Social Wellness Toolkit, there are strategies we can take to improve our social health and cultivate stronger social connections.

Emotional Support: Strong social connections provide us with emotional support during challenging times. Sharing our joys, sorrows, and everyday experiences with trusted friends and loved ones helps alleviate stress, promotes mental well-being, and boosts resilience.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Building and maintaining social relationships can significantly reduce stress levels. The emotional bond and understanding we experience in our connections create a sense of security and calmness, making it easier to cope with life's ups and downs.

Improved Self-Esteem: Social wellness plays a vital role in shaping our self-esteem and self-worth. Positive interactions with others, receiving validation, and being surrounded by supportive people can boost our confidence and foster a positive self-image.

Enhanced Physical Health: Believe it or not, social wellness can have tangible benefits for our physical health. Strong social connections have been linked to lower blood pressure, improved immune function, and increased longevity. Engaging in social activities often involves physical movement and encourages a healthier lifestyle.

In order to cultivate social wellness now that we understand its significance, explore some practical ways to nurture and strengthen social connections:

  1. Prioritize Relationships: Make a conscious effort to invest time in building and maintaining relationships by reaching out to friends, family members, or colleagues for catch-ups, coffee dates, or simply to check in. 
  2. Join Social Groups: Engage in activities that align with your interests and passions. Join a club, a sports team, a book club, or a local volunteer organization. 
  3. Practice Active Listening: When engaging in conversations, practice active listening. Give your undivided attention, maintain eye contact, and show empathy and understanding. 
  4. Embrace Digital Connections: In today's digital age, technology can bridge geographical gaps and help us connect with others. Utilize social media platforms to stay in touch with friends and family, join online communities, and engage in meaningful conversations.
  5. Be a Supportive Friend: Act as a source of support and encouragement for your loved ones. Celebrate their achievements, offer a helping hand in times of need, and be a good listener when they need to vent or seek advice. 

Social wellness is an integral part of our overall well-being. Nurturing and maintaining strong social connections enriches our lives, brings joy and fulfillment, and contributes to our mental, emotional, and physical health. By prioritizing relationships, engaging in meaningful interactions, and being a supportive friend, we can create a thriving social network that uplifts us and enhances our quality of life. So, let's cherish and cultivate our social connections because those connections can help balance the time spent in your hospital. If you are a VetCor team member, please refer to our Employee Assistance Program for tools and resources to support your social health. More details can be found in your Benefits Guide.

Written by: Saajan Bhakta, PhD (Psychology), Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional, Director of Wellness & Transitions