Are you physically okay? That’s great. But how is your social health? Having people to interact with does more for your health than you think.
Have you been feeling lonely during this pandemic? You’re not alone. The restrictions imposed to fend off COVID-19 made us feel lonely from being stuck at home all the time.
Anyone can feel lonely, regardless of whether they live by themselves, with roommates, or with family. The pandemic has deprived you of experiencing the level of socialization we used to have before, like talking to our coworkers or having random chats with the barista at your local café.
According to the American Psychological Association, loneliness and social isolation negatively affect one’s overall health. Some of the risks include a higher potential for cardiovascular disease, depression, and increased stress levels. Dealing with loneliness properly, then, is a means of self-care.
One of the ways you can overcome loneliness is by being social. But after long isolation, it is understandable that our social skills may be a bit rusty. A lack of social skills can lead to feeling awkward, anxious, and irritable. Like exercising a muscle, we need to practice our social skills to regain our social health.
Social health is one’s ability to form and maintain relationships. It involves using good communication skills, having meaningful relationships, and respecting yourself and others. Good social health is crucial to improving overall health and promoting mental wellbeing.
According to a study from the University of Arizona, people with poor social skills are potentially at a greater risk for mental and physical health problems. The study found that individuals who lacked social skills reported more stress, more loneliness, and poorer overall mental and physical health.
Fortunately, you can learn social skills. Connecting with people around you can help hone your social skills and become less awkward when communicating with others. Here are six things you can do to start developing your social skills and improve your social wellbeing.
Don’t feel pressured to be sociable right away, and start small. You can reach out to your close friends first, so you don’t feel stressed about impressing anybody while making conversation.
Let’s face it – meeting people again after a long lockdown is weird! Don’t worry if you’re feeling awkward in social situations because others may be feeling the same awkwardness, too. It’s best to face it head-on or even make a joke about it to ease tensions.
Technology has made it easier for you to reach out to others even if you don’t leave the house. Setting a time each day to chat, video call or simply email a friend is still a form of socialization and can help you retain your social skills.
Active listening is very important in any conversation. Avoid interrupting when someone is talking, and don’t talk over anyone. Also, try to ask follow-up questions to show that you’re genuinely interested. People generally respond better when they feel heard, and it makes for more meaningful interaction.
It would be easier to socialize with people if you have something in common. Joining an activity, like a volunteer group or an online art class, can help you bond with other people who are into the same things that you are. People adopted so many hobbies during the lockdown that you’ll be sure to find a group you can talk to about tips and tricks you learned over the quarantine.
You are likely relearning how to socialize, and you’ll probably make mistakes along the way. Remember to cut people some slack if they don’t behave the way you expect them to in an interaction. More importantly, be compassionate towards yourself. When socializing starts to feel overwhelming, it’s okay to take a break to recharge.
Being social can help us battle loneliness and can keep us healthy. It is one of the four pillars of total wellbeing along with physical, mental and emotional, and financial. So when you think about your health, make sure you're not being one-sided and focusing just on physical wellbeing.
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To know more about how you can achieve total wellbeing, click here.