5 Ways to Improve Your Social Wellness

Lindsay Knake

| 4 min read

Lindsay Knake is a brand journalist for Blue Cross B...

Feeling connected to others and the community around you is beneficial for your mental and physical health and well-being.
Social wellness is a healthy pattern of social behavior, physical health, and positive involvement in your community and the world. Higher levels of connection are correlated with lower levels of depression and anxiety, along with greater self-esteem and increased empathy. According to Stanford University, being connected creates a positive feedback loop for social well-being.
Here are five ways to improve your social wellness:

Develop positive relationships.

Strong social connections are linked to a longer lifespan, while loneliness is correlated with increased risk of earlier death. Positive relationships with family and friends impact our immune systems and nervous system, according to a study. Lower levels of stress hormones reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and immune function.
Having healthy relationships also requires individuals to have a strong sense of authenticity and the ability to hold boundaries. Be intentional about strengthening the relationships you have with the loved ones in your life by reaching out more often, coordinating get-togethers, and letting them know how much they mean to you.

Improve your communication skills.

Having solid communications skills will improve your relationships. Strong listening skills, conflict resolution, and being able to talk to the people in your life about what you need are essential. Effective communication can improve emotional intimacy, reduce conflict, and prevent negative patterns from persisting.
Here are tips for building good communication in any relationship:
  • Listen to understand, not respond.
  • Don’t make assumptions about how someone feels. Rather, ask questions.
  • Use “I” statements when expressing your feelings.
  • Be fully present in a conversation.

Create a healthy routine for self-care, exercise, and balance.

Social well-being also involves taking care of yourself. When you are stressed, anxious, or depressed, you have less capacity to be in relationships with other people. Managing care for yourself and others is a balance, but an important one.
Here are ways to care for yourself:
  • Get regular sleep.
  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Create a consistent exercise routine. 
  • Take a yoga, tai chi, or Pilates class as a way of combining self-care with social connection. 
  • If you’re interested, try therapy to manage your own mental and emotional health.
  • Participate in leisure activities you enjoy to reduce stress and find joy.

Make social connections and new traditions.

Social wellness is related to a variety of relationships. While close relationships are important for everyone, having friendly acquaintances is another key part of well-being.
Here are ways to make social connections in your community:
  • Join a club based on a hobby such as running, reading, or painting.
  • Join a community theater or local band.
  • Take a class in writing, music, or cooking to learn something new.
You may also consider creating new traditions with family and friends. With work and family responsibilities, it can be difficult to fit in social activities. If you can, pick a night a week or month to meet friends for dinner, lunch, or coffee. This can also help improve your mood by giving you something to look forward to.
Don’t forget to embrace your online connections. Your online friends and communities, especially when you don’t have local options available, can provide joy and supportive relationships.

Give back.

Giving to others helps them and it helps you. Your brain secretes feel good chemicals such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine when you help someone else.
Here are ways to help others and be involved in your community:
  • Volunteer at a library, school, foodbank, animal shelter or hospital.
  • Join events such as a neighborhood litter pickup – or do that on your own.
  • Join an organization such as a nonprofit or community organization.
  • Participate in community events such as fundraisers and festivals.
You can also give back to your immediate family and friends:
  • Give a loved one a call to catch up.
  • Offer to help a loved one or neighbor with a project.
  • Offer to give a caregiver or parent a break by stepping in.

Give yourself compassion.

There can be a lot of pressure to be social and be involved. For some, such as introverts, disabled, and neurodivergent people, the taxes of socializing at work and overstimulation of the office can take a toll.
Research shows some people can spend up to 75% of their time alone and not feel lonely. Introverts may prefer fewer but high-quality interactions with close friends rather than frequent social engagements. If that’s what you need, let go of any stress to be someone different and socialize in a way that does not work for you.
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association