By Dr. April Brown, LMHC, NCC, Ed.D.
How good are you at building positive relationships? Do you get along with others? Do you socialize and surround yourself with individuals who encourage and support you? The real question you must ask yourself is do you possess social wellness?
If you are unsure, allow me to explain. Social wellness deals with the relationships we have, as well as how we connect with others. An optimal level of social wellness involves building and maintaining positive and supportive relationships that increases one’s self-esteem and self-efficacy. In fact, going to school for a college degree can provide you opportunities to increase your social wellness.
Delaware Today featured an article written by Christine Facciolo that discusses the importance of having friends and the affects these relationships have on our well-being. “Recent research has shown that our need to have friends in our lives is not optional as previously thought but essential to our well-being. Numerous studies have linked strong social connectedness with such varied phenomena as motor skill retention, cancer survival, better immune function, longer life expectancy and successful aging.”[i]
Here are three strategies to improve social wellness as a college student:
- Develop Healthy Relationships. Choose to be around people who support and believe in your goals, such as your goal of acquiring a college degree. This will definitely increase your academic success. At Hodges University, you can increase your healthy relationships by joining one of our clubs and organizations, creating or joining a study group, engaging in professional development and volunteer activities, or developing a mentoring relationship with a Hodges faculty or staff member.
- Have Effective Communication Skills. Developing and maintaining healthy relationships are affected by your communication skills. Thus, when you are interacting with someone, give that person eye contact, stay in the present moment and pay attention to the conversation. As you converse, ask questions because it shows interest, and it furthers your understanding of the conversation. Classroom discussions and online discussion boards are great ways to enhance your communication skills because you are able to discuss your own thoughts while being considerate of the other person’s opinion in a trusted environment.
- Accept Yourself. Lastly, the core of social wellness is you. Having self-esteem and self-efficacy is critical in knowing your strengths and weaknesses. At optimal levels of social wellness, you understand interdependency. You are willing to help others when they struggle, and you are not afraid to ask for help.
Participating in community service events increases social wellness because you are able to be socially aware of the realities of people in need. This social awareness can increase gratitude in your life. At Hodges, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer through clubs and organizations, the Dr. Peter Thomas Veterans Services Center, the Center for Lifelong Learning and the Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Competency.
However, do not be afraid to ask for help. Truthfully, if you are struggling at Hodges, there is help. If you are struggling academically, you can contact your professor, visit your advisor, get a tutor, ask a librarian for help, check out Smarthinking, call disability services or start a study group. If you are struggling with finances, you can seek out financial aid, scholarships, career services and community resources. If you are struggling with personal issues, contact counseling services. In other words, you are not alone. We want to build a healthy long-term relationship with you and help you increase your social wellness.
[i] Facciolo, Christine. “July is Social Wellness Month.” Delaware Today. July 2015. http://www.delawaretoday.com/Blogs/Get-Healthy-Delaware/July-2015/July-is-Social-Wellness-Month/