We can explore our social wellness by checking in with three important elements:
Family: Our ability to sustain meaningful connections with those we consider family.
Friends: Our ability to build and nurture meaningful connections with our closest friends.
Fellows: Our ability to initiate and maintain meaningful connections with our colleagues, neighbors, and community.
The pandemic has certainly added complexity to the way we tend to our social wellness by forcing us to get creative with the ways we establish and maintain connection with our friends, family, and fellows.
How are you feeling in the realm of social wellness?
Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to check in and make small adjustments.
Who are the top 5 people in my life right now? These folks are our closest and most meaningful relationships.
Do these folks know that they are a priority to me?
Does the way that I am spending my time, energy, & resources with these individuals reflect my priorities?
Three simple strategies to support your social wellness:
Gratitude Visit: A great way to connect with the top five people in our lives is to let them know something specific about them we are thankful for. I know that can seem trivial and cliche, but there is a whole body of research suggesting that expressing our gratitude boosts well-being for both the person expressing and the person receiving the gratitude.
Here is how the gratitude visit works:
Step one: Write a letter to a loved one expressing a specific gratitude.
Step two: Read this letter out loud, ideally in-person, to the loved one you wrote it to. You can always do this via virtual means (i.e. Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, etc.).
Step three: Take a moment to reflect on your gratitude visit later that day or week. Remember how you felt - relive the experience.
Give it a go and see how it feels!
Progressive story text or email thread: Start a text or email thread with some friends or family (probably no more than 5 people), and take turns filling in story line. Designate a specific order that each person will contribute in, and have some fun. If necessary, create some rules or guidelines about the content of the progressive story (we all have those friends and family members).
Here is an example of a story line I have going with two friends right now:
Person one: One dark, cold night, Henry got up to get a drink of water. He had just stepped into the kitchen when...
Person two: his teenage daughter, Kayla, came barreling through the back door, soaking wet.
Person three: "Dad, dad, come quick" she shouted.
Person one: Just as Henry and Kayla started walking outside, Henry's son stumbled out from the side alley and shouted, "Dad, dad, come quick!"
Person three: Henry's head was spinning? "Is it an emergency, Jeff?" I'd like to figure out what is going on with Kayla."
Perform an act of kindness: Plan out acts of kindness for the top 5 people in your life right now. Take some time to think about an act of kindness that each person would really enjoy receiving, and then decide when you will perform the act.
As you prepare to perform the act, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you are performing the act without looking for anything in return.
After you perform an act of kindness, reflect back on it later that day or week and savor the experience.
Enjoy connecting with the people in your life most important to you.
Be well, my friend!