Healthy Highlights: by Pat Jenkins, MSN

Social Wellness
As a nurse. I’ve seen patients tight up when friends visit or find the will to live when a loved one holds their hand. If you’ve been letting your relationships slide or feel lonely and isolated, please stop and take time to reinforce this critical part of your life.
Personal connections increase your well-being and sense of seif. It’s vital for your health. A study done in 2021 showed that since 2014 there has been a continued decrease in time spent with friends. Yes, the pandemic added to that, but included was the loss of a spouse or friends, and living in a digital world. The study further showed a greater drop among men. Many men say they don’t feel it’s masculine to have male friends. Women are more supportive of their relationships. Seeing friends regularly has a gre£ ter impact on your psyche, stimulating your intellect and helps you to find compromise.
What is social wellness? Social well-being can be defined as our abi ity to effectively interact with people around us and to create a support system that include: family and friends, it fosters connections with others and contributes to a sense of belonging, which is important for optimal wellness. Social wellness is all about developing skills that will help you relate to others in a healthy and meaningful way.
If you’re feeling socially disconnected, you can learn ways to improve the relationships you have, build your support network, and make new connections. Much of social wellness is learned behavior; conflict management, setting boundaries, communication skills, assertiveness, respect for others and the ability to balance time between social and personal needs. We can all improve on these skills for the betterment of our well-being.
Vivek Murthy, former attorney general of the United States said, “We can’t underestimate the power that we have as individuals to provide the support that people need. Social support can provide that transition from a place of pain to a place of possibility.”
What is loneliness? Social isolation, or being alone, doesn’t always some people who are surrounded by family and friends feel lonely, work alone don’t feel lonely at all. Psychology researchers Julianne from Brigham Young University define loneliness as the discrepancy actual level of social connection. That means being alone doesn’t bother us. We aren’t lonely; only when we notice the lack of social connection do we feel the stress of lonetiness. However,feelings of loneliness are very real. Holt and Smith found that social increased risk of death by up to 30% and calculated it is a greater risk than smoking and obesity.
Lonely people have been characterized as antisocial loners, lacking to be blamed fortheir loneliness, many people resist admitting to it, even to themselves. John Cacioppo, PhD, a social neuroscientist at the University of Chicago says that’s dangerous. Brain image studies show that loneliness puts the brain into a survival-mcde state of hyper-vigilance, and the negative effects include: Increased cortisol levels, impulsive responses, and fitful sleep. Cacioppo urges people to respond to feeling isolated or other signs of loneliness as they would to other biological indicators such as hunger, thirst or pain.

Studies show that lonely people have more trouble with self-control and are more likely to overeat, eat unhealthy foods, or engage In other unhealthy behaviors In order to feel better. Loneliness has been found to cause inflammation and raise stress hormone levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
You can take steps to improve your social wellness. Here are a few ways to enhance your relationships with people and to make new friends.

  • Disconnect to connect: Make a regular routine to disconnect from technology every day in order to spend time face to face with family or friends.
  • Improve your communication skills: Communicate in person whenever possible and learn to use the “I” statements, such as “I need to talk to you”.
  • Connect with your community: Volunteering can give you a sense of self-worth and connect you to other people. Consider joining a local group focused on an activity you enjoy.
  • Be positive: Put disappointments, complaints and worries aside for a while and enjoy the present.
  • Evaluate your emotional intelligence: Are you sensitive to others amotions? If not, you may be missing signals they’re giving you about what they need from you as a friend.
  • Take time to celebrate and compliment your family and friends with a call or visit. Don’t wait for birthdays to celebrate. Make a regular habit of complimenting a id thanking people when it’s deserved.
  • Smile and learn people’s names. There is great value in smiling and remembering people by
    their first name. When you use someone’s name, you show respect matters to them. Date Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and
    most important sound in any ianguage”.