Why social wellbeing should be your top priority in 2023
Are your social skills feeling a little rusty? You are not alone. A 2022 survey of 2000 adults in the USA noted that 59% of people were finding it harder to form relationships since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Folks’ nerves stemmed from worrying about not knowing what to say (29%), fearing embarrassing themselves (26%) and concerns about saying the wrong thing (16%). These fears are hardly surprising given the monumental ruptures our social lives have faced over the past few years.
The disruptions have created opportunities to reimagine how we live and work. And yet, the additional stresses and strains folks have faced have led to many individual’s social lives slipping onto the back burner. Where they have stayed. The unrelenting quality of the challenges faced, make the seductive ease and convenience of isolation all too understandable. However, without realising, many folks have slipped into a state of habitual loneliness. Unfortunately, the pernicious, self perpetuating nature of loneliness makes it ever more difficult to make changes you need to feel better.
It has never been more critical to focus our collective energies on breaking these cycles and building a world that prioritises social connection. An increasing body of scientific evidence shows that folks with strong social connections are more likely to live longer, have stronger immune systems and experience greater overall satisfaction with life. One approach to get more intentional about nurturing your social connections is to focus on your social wellbeing.
Social wellbeing refers to our capacity to develop and sustain meaningful relationships with other people. It is a multifaceted concept, encompassing our relationships with ourselves, our friendships and our broader communities. Consequently, actions that work for one person might not necessarily resonate with another. The key is to deliberately spend time figuring out what ingredients you need to feel a sense of belonging and support. Arthur C Brooks, in a recent Atlantic article, suggested approaching improving your social wellbeing ‘like stating a workout routine after a long sedentary period.’ Recognise that initially things are likely to feel uncomfortable or awkward. Focusing on the bigger ‘why’ behind putting effort into nurturing you social connections can help you push through early challenges. Over time, those social muscles and your confidence will build back up. Which in turn makes it easier to create sustainable changes.
In the coming months, I’ll be exploring a multitude of topics and ideas for action to nurture your social wellbeing. If you’ve got any particular questions you’d like me to explore. Let me know in the comments!