Social Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It
What does it mean to have Social Wellness? A person who is socially well has a support network that is based on interdependence, respect, and mutual trust. They are also sensitive to and aware of the feelings of others (1).
Why is Social Wellness important? Humans are social creatures, which means that our relationships with one another are crucial components of our mental health and sense of wellbeing. According to UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman, social connection is as important to our health as food, water, and shelter (2). Beyond basic health, social support has been shown to play a role in the mental health of college students, specifically. Hefner and Eisenberg (2009) found that students with lower quality social support were more likely to experience mental health problems. Compared to students with high quality social support, students with low quality support were at higher risk of experiencing depressive symptoms (3).
How do you cultivate Social Wellness? It’s important to form connections and develop genuine relationships with others. This isn’t always easy, especially for students at a large university such as Penn State. Finding friends, especially ones who share your values and interests, can be a daunting task. But there are ways that you can make this big campus feel like home. Joining organizations, clubs, or sports teams are just a few ways you can meet people who share similar interests. Don’t forget about all of the academic societies, business fraternities, cultural groups, and volunteer groups at Penn State.
Here are a few links to get you started:
- Club Sports: http://sites.psu.edu/clubsports/clubs/ From Aikido to Yoga, there are dozens of club sports that are generally open to all skill levels and relatively affordable to join.
- Student Organization Directory: https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/hub/studentorgs/orgdirectory/ You can search by organization name, category, or keyword.
- Ohio State University Student Wellness Center https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/9-dimensions-of-wellness/
- UCLA Newsroom http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/we-are-hard-wired-to-be-social-248746\