Wellness is the ultimate state of wholeness that can be achieved by a human being. It is the physical, mental, spiritual, and practical utopia of the human experience. Holistic wellness consists of eight distinct pillars, or arenas, of well-being. In this article, I will address the third pillar, social wellness.
Social wellness is precisely the state of our personal social network. “Social network” typically elicits a connotation of online profiles, vacation photo galleries, and superficial human connections that often exacerbate anxiety, depression, and dissatisfaction with one’s own life rather than making a meaningful contribution to it.
But in this case, I’m not talking about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube. I’m talking about your social network. The part of your life that is ultimately a patchwork quilt of all your social interactions and friendships.
Socialization is intrinsic to human brain circuitry. Humans are a social species. We depend on one another and therefore crave a sense of belonging.When we engage in positive social interactions, we are rewarded with a sense of belonging. Such simple positive reinforcement also explains why toxic relationships are hazardous to your health, and why individuals with stronger friendships and social networks live longer, happier lives.
As such, maintaining strong, healthy social ties is critical to our well-being. It is not necessary to have 100 friends, but rather a few supportive, trustworthy friends will improve your life plenty. A fair warning to all the social butterflies out there — maintaining friendships indiscriminately, regardless of whether or not they truly bring value to your life, is dangerous. One toxic friendship does more damage than having no friends at all. Be selective.
Friendships should be a meaningful contribution to your life, not a parasitic burden that triggers anxiety, stress, and discomfort. Toxic friendships are often easy to identify but difficult to cope with. Become adept at recognizing friendships that are worth your while.
Devote yourself to friends who challenge you to be a better version of yourself. Friends who support and encourage what’s important to you. Friends who respect your priorities and boundaries. Friends who truly have your best interest at heart. Offer them the same, and if you find that you can’t, then let them go.