As well as our physical and mental wellbeing, social wellbeing is an integral part of our overall health. Humans, as a species, are social by nature – we not only crave interactions but we actually require them.
Researcher Atul Gawande, explains that, “Human beings are social creatures. We are social, not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people.”
Social wellbeing is not always about having a packed social calendar – it is about connecting and having a sense of belonging with people, resulting in a strong support network around you. This can be from friends, family, colleagues, neighbours or your community. They are the people that you can spend time with, lean on for advice and who look out for you. Without these strong relationships in our lives, our ability to thrive is limited.
It has been found that social wellbeing is provided by 3 areas:
- Affection – the emotional satisfaction and attachment from close relationships, for example, husband/wife, children, close friends.
- Status – recognition for our attributes, for example, work achievements
- Behavioural confirmation – acceptance socially amongst friends, in hobbies or social groups
Social isolation and loneliness can have a detrimental impact on our health and wellbeing. Most people can’t deal with solitude for a long period of time. We need other people to keep us sane. Many of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives, and almost all of us could be better connected with our friends and community.
We have all written in a Christmas card ‘must get together in the New Year’. It might be meeting up with one of your colleagues who you have been meaning to have coffee with, or Skyping your friend who has moved away. We know that we can all make more of an effort with friends so now is your chance.
Cherry, K. (2018). How Social Support contributed to Psychological Health. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/social-support-for-psychological-health-4119970
Faculty of Public Health (2015). Concepts of Mental and Social Wellbeing. Available at: https://www.fph.org.uk/policy-campaigns/special-interest-groups/special-interest-groups-list/public-mental-health-special-interest-group/better-mental-health-for-all/concepts-of-mental-and-social-wellbeing/
Fallowfield, N. (2015). Social Wellbeing. The Importance of Personal Relationships. Available at: https://www.gibsonins.com/blog/social-wellbeing-the-importance-of-personal-relationships
McCarthy Psychology (2012) Available at: http://mccarthypsychology.com.au/social-wellbeing-is-as-important-as-physical-wellbeing-social-production-function-model-for-wellbeing-as-we-age/