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.
Social Health: 3 Pillars
Our social health stands on three pillars. Each of which has a very pivotal role to play in our building our social contacts, social interactions or social connections. Here is a look at the three pillars.
This pillar is based on your ability to perceive a relationship and is different from mental and physical health .This is a kind of self report where you need to identify the value that you are perceiving from each of your relationships – friends and family.
Sometimes you can be socially fit with lesser relationships. This is because you perceive more quality in these limited number of relationships. Hence this pillar is extremely subjective.
Figure out what makes you socially healthy. It could be making friends, talking to people or just spending some quality time with your loved ones. The focus should be on identifying the balance between socializing and practicing solitude.
Last but not the least, every process has room for improvement. Your outcomes from the first two pillars will define whether you need to improve. There are two options to improve.
First is that you broaden your approach which means you speak to more people, reach out to them and build relationships. Second is that you deepen your existing relationships. This is done by spending more time with people that matter.
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. Even research has shown this to be true. 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 –
Benefits of good social health
In a nutshell, social health is the ability to form healthy interpersonal relationships. It is an extremely important part of our overall well being. Here is a look at ten benefits of maintaining good social health.
1. Easy to adapt
People with good social health find it easier to adapt to various social situations. They have an excellent support system in the form of friends and family.
2. Balance becomes easier
When your social health is good, it will be easier for you to balance your professional and personal life. This way, the environment in the family and the office is always good.
3. Build happier relationships
If you are socially healthy, you will find it easier to build connections, make friends and move on in life. You will find it easier to engage with the community.
4. Healthy boundaries
It is important to ensure that you establish healthy boundaries in a relationship. If you are socially fit, you will find it easier to maintain these boundaries and avoid enmeshed relationships.
5. Longer life
Those with good social health have a strong support system. People with such support systems end up living longer lives.
6. Better physical health
Good social health is also linked to a strong physical health. This is because it helps in building a stronger immune system.
7. Avoid many health issues
Like we said good social health also promotes good mental health. Therefore it helps avoid mental health issues like dementia, stress, depression and anxiety among others. Yes! There are many health benefits of good social health.
8. Easier to overcome challenges
One of the reasons many of us cave in to challenges is that we have no one to fall back on. Well, if you are socially healthy, you will always have a strong support system. This will give you the willpower to overcome challenges or at least fight them better.
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.
Good social health also improves an individual’s will power to battle physical and mental stress. Being socially isolated does not help. 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. It is vital to the overall public health.
- 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!
- Those with poor social health are also likely to end up with inflammation in different parts of the body.
- 6. Such individuals also easily fall prey to other chronic health conditions like heart diseases and high blood pressure.
Factors affecting social health
There are many factors that affect an individual’s social health. In fact, all the conditions that you live, learn and work/play in, have an impact on your social health. These factors are critical as they influence the health and well being of the entire community. Here is a look at some of the factors affecting social health:
Being educated is extremely important. This is because it gives you the authority to take the right decisions about your health and welfare. For instance, education empowers you to choose the right living and working conditions that help improve your social health. Additionally, education makes you aware and ensures that you pay attention to your health.
A good earning is often linked to a better quality of life. This is extremely important when it comes to maintaining social health.
3) Housing facility
Your living conditions tend to impact the overall health and well being of an individual. However, not everyone can afford good housing facilities because it depends on the earnings, the expenses and of course the convenience of the family. Your neighborhood pretty much defines the conditions that you live in.
For instance, if you live in a neighborhood notorious for theft, fights and murders, maintaining your social health will be a challenge. The physical environments impact social health in a big way as they affect individual behavior and impact overall health outcomes.
A lot of countries have an excellent infrastructure when it comes to offering healthcare services. Residents in such countries have access to good healthcare services, often provided free of cost under the government’s welfare schemes. This ensures that their social and physical health is taken care of.
5) Self love
A very important factor that tends to have a huge impact on social health is the ability of the individual to give preference to his or her needs. How many times do you listen to your heart and indulge in stuff that you like to do. This self love plays a crucial role in ensuring the social activity and hence social welfare of the individual.
Which factor is an aspect of social health?
A key aspect of social health is the way people react with us. Our interaction with them in the day to day life determines our well being. For instance, you rarely feel nice if you come back home from a long and heated argument at work. Sometimes, it is the reaction that triggers our behavior. In any relationship, people have expectations.
The way we are prepared to meet these expectations or express our feelings about them is important. This decides the future course of actions and reactions for everyone involved in the relationship. Ultimately, it impacts the social health of the individual.
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.
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.
Understanding 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.
6. Start with the basics
Don’t look for complicated ideas to work on social health. In fact, identify something that is easy and fun to do.
A good way to improve social health is to make new friends. But this does not mean that you should invest time to figure out various strategies to get people to be your friends. Instead, just go with the flow and do not run away when you get a chance to initiate a conversation. Slowly and gradually you will make friends.
7. Make time
You need to invest time to improve your social health. Just thinking about it will not change anything.
It is important to consciously set aside some time to interact with friends or family, basically anyone that matters. You could set a weekly schedule, maybe plan a potluck or a games night. Remember, there will always be some relationships that can benefit from your love and care.
8. Bond with a community
From church goers to beach surfers, there are many communities that invite people to join. You can easily look for something that works for you.
If you are feeling very lonely in life, it is always a good idea to associate yourself with a group or a community. Ideally, you should choose a community that shares your interest. And if you think that your interests are weird, you will be surprised at the number of communities that support it.
9. Use technology
In today’s fast paced world, you may not have the time to meet people physically. But with technology, you will always have the option to catch up anytime, anywhere.
One of the reasons why social health suffers is that people often ignore the need to stay in touch. Sometimes they blame it on their work schedule and sometimes it is just the distance that makes it difficult to reach out in person.
But, with the likes of video calling facilities like Skype, Google Duo and so many more, staying in touch with people has become easier.
Physical exercise is known to boost social health as well.
A good way to improve your social health is to step out to exercise. Blood pressure of people depends on the vascular system and healthier cardiovascular activities ensure that this system stays fit. Healthier cardiovascular functioning is very important for the body.
It ensures a healthier endocrine system and healthier personality. Do whatever you like-it could be a jog, walk or even a trek. You are likely to come across people with similar interests. This will give you a chance to bond with them. Additionally, exercising is known to release hormones that fuel positivity in the body.
11. Volunteer for charity
Giving others is one of the best ways to feel thankful about everything that you have. This boosts social health.
Sign up for a local charity and help them with their work. This gives you a chance to give back to the community. Additionally, you will meet people, get a chance to make new friends. All of this will further help in improving your social health.
12. Eat healthy
When social health suffers, one may look for respite in food. But the key to staying healthy is to eat healthy.
Doctors often emphasize on the importance of eating healthy. This is because you are what you eat – implies that if you eat healthy, you stay healthy. When someone’s social health suffers, they are likely to look for comfort in food.
This often leads to overeating which in turn can cause several health issues. If you intend to improve your social health, you need to start by eating healthy, love your body and care for it. It all starts with opting for healthy foods.
13. Ask for help
If you are not well, it is absolutely okay to speak to a social health expert and take their professional guidance.
Improving social health is not easy. It requires effort and a lot of patience. In spite of your best efforts, there is a possibility, you may not see the required improvement. If this happens, do not hesitate to reach out to the experts and seek professional guidance. This is just like any other health issue that can be resolved with the right guidance.
14. Sleep well
A good night’s rest is very important for a healthy body.
Your social health also depends on your mental and emotional fitness. If you have not taken proper rest, you are likely to wake up all grumpy with a short temper. This will clearly not help you when you try to socialize.
15. Have fun
Irrespective of the approach you choose to improve your social health, you should be comfortable with it.
There are many ways to improve social health. It is important to choose the methods that appeal to you. After all, this is not a punishment. It is a process to improve your overall well being. Therefore, it is very important to enjoy yourself during the process.
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.