Social Health and COVID-19
Updated: Jan 12, 2022
WHAT IS SOCIAL HEALTH?
Social health is the ability of individuals to form healthy and rewarding interpersonal relationships with others, from romantic partners to coworkers, family members to friends, enjoy positive interactions and adapt in social situations.
GOOD SOCIAL HEALTH LOOKS LIKE
Adapting to social situations
Staying true to yourself in all situations
Balancing your social and personal time
Being engaged with others in your community
The ability to develop and maintain friendships
Creating boundaries in friendships and relationships
Having a supportive network of family and friends
For many, the depletion of social health has been one of the largest psychological challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The health risks of worsening social health have been proven to be comparable to those of smoking cigarettes, high blood pressure and obesity.
The reason why social wellness is so important is that people who have healthy relationships, and a strong social network tend to live longer and respond better to stress. This reduction in stress and anxiety results in a healthier endocrine system, healthier cardiovascular functioning and an enhanced immune system.
Positive social health can help you strengthen support systems and stay physically and mentally healthier.
TIPS TO STAY CONNECTED AND BUILD NEW RELATIONSHIPS
1. Build social health by starting with a healthy self
Self-care is an important way to maintain strong relationships. Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest and exercising are a good start. Learning how to handle stress is vital, too. When you’re feeling mentally and physically strong, it’s easier to share the best of yourself with others.
2. Connect with your kids
Whether you have youngsters at home more often because of the pandemic or young adults who are working from home, being with your kids can have its ups and downs. But try to focus on the good. Being available for chats, consistently seeking connection and actively listening can help your kids’ mental well-being and set an example of healthy socializing.
3. Reach out to keep friendships close
Regular contact is important for maintaining close friendships. Even if you’re staying at home more, you can still set a goal to contact a couple of your friends every week. Make a call, text them, have an exchange using social media, share coffee over FaceTime or Zoom — there are a number of ways to connect with friends and keep them close at heart even when you’re social distancing. Regular contact is important for maintaining close friendships. Even if you’re staying at home more, you can still set a goal to contact a couple of your friends every week.
4. Find common ground in a community group
Maybe you don’t need a lot of close friendships. If you prefer to keep things low-key but still enjoy engaging with others, think about joining a group. Because of COVID-19, many community groups are forming virtually. For example, one young lady who enjoys playing the ukulele has joined a group for a Sunday evening jamfest on Facebook. Make it about sharing moments with others while doing something you enjoy.
5. Work on your friendships while working out
Grab your mask and meet a friend for a physically distant walk around the park. Or take your pet for a walk and take a moment to chat with a neighbor at a safe distance. Going out at about the same time each day often leads to seeing the same people regularly. Although you may only have a brief conversation, it can become a bright spot in your day that you look forward to and also improve your social wellness.
6. Keep your social commitments
Maybe you’re not going out to eat or enjoying a movie night with friends like you used to. That’s why something like a video call with a friend is just as important. Still, it takes time and effort to connect and it may seem easier to cancel the call. But canceling too often will make your friend feel less valued. That can affect not only your friend but your feelings about yourself. Try to keep your commitments and make the connection.
7. Hone your communication skills
Communication is a major part of maintaining strong relationships and staying socially healthy. Feeling you have poor communication skills may make it hard for you to socialize and build a rapport with others. In many cases, it’s a lack of confidence or practice that can be improved by reading books or taking online courses. Not everyone is born with great communication skills, but they can be learned. These are just a few of the ways you can start now:
Maintain eye contact when you’re talking with someone, even if it’s on a video call.
Give the other person plenty of time to talk, and listen well when they do.
Stay tuned into your body language — for instance, don’t fold your arms, which can look like you’re not open to what the other person is saying.
At the end, remember that if you’re finding it hard to adjust to limited social contact, you’re not alone. But there are still ways to help bridge that distance. Today’s techy tools and resources can help, along with good old-fashioned phone calls, walks and even greeting cards and letters. Staying socially healthy will benefit your physical and mental health, and your overall quality of life will reflect it.
Don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it, you can ask a doctor or a mental health professional if you are struggling mentally and emotionally