One can rely on exercise to stay fit mentally and physically. The absence of disease or infirmity in the immune system is often considered a state of complete physical fitness. For mental fitness, you can rely on stress-reducing methods like meditations.
But what about your social health? Unfortunately, the absence of disease does not mean that you are healthy or that people live longer. Overall health and well-being goes beyond these apparent symptoms. Socially healthy people may live longer.
Social Health Definition
Social health is linked to an individual’s overall well-being. It determines the ability to form and maintain interpersonal relationships.
The term social health is not heard very often. The reason being that most of us are focussed on taking care of our physical appearance. It is natural to pay heed to what is visible. For instance, if you have a fever, you rush to a doctor because it is an obvious symptom that you are unwell. There is a stress on eating right, even sleeping right but social health does not get the same attention.
This is unfortunate because good social health positively impacts physical and mental well being. As human beings, all of us are involved in various social situations, at any point in time. Little by little, these situations impact social health and well being of the individual. Social health is determined by the way we interact with people, form relationships with other people in our daily life, and manage interdependency in the community.
Alarming facts about Social Health
According to a 2018 social interactions study done on Americans, a large part of the population in the age group of 18 to 22 years, is suffering from loneliness. Research shows that this is an indicator of poor social health. Unfortunately, the usage of social media does not seem to be helping much when it comes to improving social health. For instance, people may be ardent users of various social media platforms but that does not stop them from being lonely.
The challenge is that most people find it difficult to bridge the gap between the type of relationships they have and they desire to have. In the article that follows, we will share with you a few simple tips to bridge this gap and therefore lead happier lives. Even the World Health Organization lists out the importance of social determinants to live a healthy and happy life.
Why is social health important today?
In this day and age of technology, the importance of meeting people seems to be fading. Most of us are so busy to keep up with routine life that we can barely spare the time to work on our relationships. If one does not invest in maintaining relationships, they are likely to end up lonely in their life.
This impacts the mental well being of the individual. The evolution of mankind indicates characteristics of a social animal-someone who relies on interdependency and community relationships to lead a healthy life. The importance of social health lies in this very evolutionary trait.
Check out this video for understanding the Importance of Social Health –
How poor physical health impacts social health?
Physical health is a determinant of the social health of an individual. When someone is raised in an unhealthy environment, he or she is likely to have mental health issues. For instance, if a child is raised by a family of sick parents, he or she is likely to be overburdened with responsibilities. This will make it difficult for them to sustain interpersonal relationships. Gradually, this will lead to the deterioration of their social health.
Similarly, if someone suffers from a long term illness, they often prefer to stay at home, away from friends and family. Sometimes the lockdown at home is medically mandatory. But other times, it is just laziness that makes it difficult for the sick to step out and interact. This negatively impacts their social health. Alternatively, if we understand and acknowledge the importance of social health and wellness, we can motivate people to step out and invest in nurturing relationships.
Good social health also improves an individual’s will power to battle physical and mental stress. Additionally, it uplifts the spirit helping individuals to sustain a positive attitude and move forward in life.
Here are some key disadvantages of poor social health on physical well being
- Such people are more prone to flu and cold. Good social health builds your immune system.
- Working to maintain your social health also helps in strengthening your ability to fight depression.
- Depressing relationships deprive an individual of mental peace and affect their sleeping pattern. Sleep is a key contributor to an individual’s physical and mental health.
- Poor social health reduces productivity and sharpness of the mind. You end up being a lazy slowpoke!
Social Health Examples
- An individual loves to meet friends and family. In spite of his or her busy schedule, always finds the time to nurture these relationships. He or she shares their highs and lows with these people. The result is good mental health, a positive attitude, and overall happiness in life. This is a clear indicator of good social health.
- The youngest child in a family often faces extreme situations. Either the child is too pampered or too ignored. In both cases, the upbringing can negatively impact the child’s social health. Treat all your children equally and they will grow up to be happy as well as healthy adults.
- Someone is facing an extremely challenging situation at work. This person has two options – to keep quiet and continue to suffer or to discuss the situation with close friends/family and find a solution. Those who opt for the second option enjoy better social health.
- You are not happy in your marriage. But you are keeping mum about it because you are worried about the reactions from the people around you. This will adversely impact your social health. Definitely a healthier approach would be to talk about your problems and opt for a divorce if you are not able to resolve it.
- You lost your job recently and are living off your parents’ money. Many people would make fun of your condition, some may even go to the extent of calling you useless. If you choose to take their comments to the heart, it will lead to a rapid decline in your social well being. Ideally, you should not let their words affect you negatively. Stay focused in your efforts to change the situation.
- 6. You break up with your partner. For many, this is a reason to complain. They are not able to handle the rejection. However, as a healthy practice, you need to accept the rejection and move on. Do not look at it as the end of your life. This is just one chapter, something better may already be on your way.
- A kid loses a match at the sports event in his school. This kid comes back home feeling all dejected. In this case, there are two options that the parents can choose from. Either talk to the kid about why he lost or just tell them that it is okay to lose the match. Make them realize that this is not the end of the road and that they have a lot to look ahead in life.
- Your boss demeans your work. You do not get any feedback but your efforts are never appreciated. The result is that you lose the motivation to do the work. If you continue your job in this place, you are actually penalizing yourself. Gradually, this will impact your social health as well. The better option will be to leave the job with dignity and work for someone who respects your efforts.
- Another example of social health being affected adversely is when a person is involved in a toxic relationship. In this case, one partner often let go of his/her complaints until it becomes unbearable. Why should you let it affect your social health to such an extent? Instead, just move on.
- Negative social behaviors lead to a loss of empathy. In the long run, this also leads to deterioration of social health. A healthy practice would be to prevent the issue from escalating to this level.
Two Sides to Social Health
There are various aspects to social health. However, the two sides of social health can be identified as social isolation and loneliness. The two may sound similar but they are very different. Social isolation is usually by choice where an individual chooses to distance himself or herself from the community. However, if one experiences loneliness, it is an indicator that they are not getting sufficient social interactions.
Loneliness also indicates that you are not as good at making relationships with people. The repeated failures and rejections end up adding to your troubles and before you know it your health deteriorates.
Physical, Mental and Social Health
Health and well-being are always the primary motto in life. However, good health is a result of maintaining physical, mental and social well being. Let’s take a look at what these terms mean.
1. Physical health: This is related to your external appearance. Take care of your body with regular exercise. Treat the body like a temple and do not abuse the privileges that it provides. The motto is to ensure optimal functioning of the body.
2. Mental health: This health parameter refers to how people think, feel and behave. In today’s fast paced life, stress often becomes a reason for the deterioration of mental health.
3. Social health: This parameter is associated with the interpersonal relationships that an individual has. It also relates to an individual’s ability to react to a situation and act appropriately
How to improve social health?
Poor social health often leads you to build a wall around yourself that isolates you from the others. This, in turn, leads to the person developing a certain hesitance to make new friends or build your social network. Gradually, your social skills begin to rust. However, with a little bit of effort and the willpower to overcome the hurdles, the situation can improve considerably. Here is a five-step guide to doing so:
1. Meet people
When was the last time you spoke to your friends or meet them for a weekend brunch?
One of the first symptoms of poor social health is social isolation. This stems from the hesitance to meet people, build healthy relationships, make new friends, talk to them, etc. Therefore the journey to overcome this issue also starts with the practice of socializing. Of course, it will be difficult to go all out and socialize.
But, you can start with baby steps. For example, make plans with your friends over the weekend. You can do something as simple as meeting over a sumptuous Sunday brunch or go to the movies together. Gradually, you will become comfortable with the idea of making friends, meeting new people, and interacting with them.
Do not try to rush yourself to make new friends. If you try to be overly friendly, you will end up pushing people away. When one positively interacts, the results will also be positive.
2. Try new things
One of the best ways to improve your physical, mental and social health is to meet new people and what better way to do so than by trying new things.
The whole idea of trying new things is to give yourself a chance to pursue your interests. In the process, you will come across like-minded people, get a chance to interact with them. This will help you build your social circle. Additionally, the public environment will make it easier for you to overcome your fears. The confidence that you gain is an excellent value-add to your physical and mental health.
3. Be approachable
No one is going to come forward to make friends with you if you are not approachable!
This aspect is all about making yourself approachable because we will all need social support at some point in time. Simple things like keeping yourself clean and well-groomed go a long way in making you look presentable. Take some effort to dress decently. Also, don’t forget your body language. You need to sport an attitude that makes it easy for people to approach you. For instance, wear a smile when you go to gatherings.
Wearing softer colors like pastel hues, whites, subtle blues also add a certain warmth to your overall personality.
4. Stop judging or blaming
If you will criticize people, they won’t hesitate to return the favor. In the process, you will end up making more enemies.
Judging people for their actions without understanding their point of view is a bad habit. It feels negative emotions in your heart as well. What’s more, is that it leads to people moving away from you. For instance, no one would want to be friends with you if you keep judging them for everything that they do. Needless to say, this will diminish your social health.
5. Nurture your relationships
Building new relationships is easy, the tough part is investing the effort to maintain these relationships.
The basic step to maintaining or nurturing relationships involves giving respect to the people involved. This respect is demonstrated through simple actions like being there for them when they need you or giving them a patient hearing. Remember, everyone involved has an equal stake in the relationship, no one is special. Treat everyone as equals with respect and they will reciprocate the gesture.
This is a simple guide that can help you improve your social health but sometimes you may need more than a guide. There is a possibility that you may feel the need to talk or seek the help of a professional therapist. If that is the case, confront the issue and do not hesitate to ask for help at your nearest health center. There are many people who seek this kind of help. Such problems require a combination of medication and therapy. But the important thing to remember is that they can be addressed.
Social Health FAQs
What are the social determinants of health?
The key social determinants of health are the environment in which you are brought up, your work conditions, your physical health, your mental health, and your age. These are the very basic factors that govern the social health and well being of a person.
Why is social health important?
Your social health governs the way that you will interact with everyone around you. This means it indirectly affects your personal and professional relationships. Poor social health means that the person will isolate himself or herself from everyone around. Therefore, it is important to focus to acknowledge the importance of social health and pay attention to it!
What are the benefits of social health?
The benefits of social health are that it helps an individual maintain healthy relationships with everyone around. It is a healthy way of living life and fuels a positive approach to living life. Good social health is also a great confidence booster.
How to maintain good social health?
You can maintain good social health by being approachable and open to trying new things. You don’t need to be an extrovert, just show the willingness to interact and the rest will fall into place. You will get a chance to meet new people and learn new things, this will boost your social health.
What are the factors affecting social health?
The two key factors affecting social health are physical and mental well-being. You need to ensure that you are living and working in a positive environment. Pay attention to the symptoms that indicate a problem with your physical health or your mental well-being, if something does not feel right, do not hesitate to approach a professional and seek help.
A freelancer by profession, Kavita writes on a variety of topics, mental health being one of her favorites. Fond of traveling, socializing and meeting new people, most of her inspiration for writing comes from real-life scenarios as well as experiences. Her motto in life has always been to look for a reason to smile.