Social Health

Our friends and family make us happy and give us support when we need it. But, did you know that they keep us healthy, too? Scientists are now finding out that there are health benefits to being social. The more people we know, and the stronger our relationships, the healthier we will be!
 An illustration of people being social at a park.

What is Social Health?

Social health is about how we relate to other people. It describes how strong our relationships are. We might not think of that as healthy or unhealthy. Yet, the people we know actually help to keep us illness free!
 

In fact, there are a ton of benefits to having good social health. For one, being socially healthy helps to keep us mentally healthy. Friends and family make us feel less worried and down (or stressed). What’s more, social health actually helps your heart! People with strong relationships are less at risk for diseases of the heart. We don’t know exactly why this is.

An illustration of a heart with a heartbeat line over top of it.

Good social health helps keep our heart working!

 

Now, these benefits don’t just depend on the number of relationships you have. They also depend upon how close those relationships are! Sadly, some relationships can even be harmful. It’s important that the people you see regularly are supportive and kind to you. Else, they’re not really your friends, are they?
 

Examples of Social Health

Social health is something we work on every day (whether or not we realize it)! So, it’s important that you are able to recognize which relationships are healthy and which are not. Here are a few examples to demonstrate:
 
  1. Let’s say you become injured and go to a hospital. In a healthy relationship, a friend would make sure that you’re alright. They might also give you support as you recover. In this way, having a strong relationship makes dealing with an injury easier.
 
  1. You have a big test tomorrow that you need to study for. But, your friends are all hanging out. If your friends are supportive, they will probably discourage you from going with them. They should want you to do well in school. Social health doesn’t mean you have to see people all the time! In fact, it’s just as much about knowing when you need to be alone.
 
  1. You get a healthy amount of exercise. Yet, your friends want you to stop so that you can play games with them. This is not a positive influence. These friends actually are hurting your health! Not exercising isn’t healthy, even if it means you can spend more time with others.

    An illustration of two things balancing on a see-saw shape.

    Good health is all about balance. Sure, social health is important. But, you have to make time for physical and mental health, too.

How to Improve Social Health

Creating Relationships

Creating relationships can be difficult, though there are a few really good ways to do so. One of the most reliable ways is to join a club or sports team. Common goals and interests often help people to start talking to one another. 
 
Another great way to create relationships is simply to help people out. Volunteer work or doing things for neighbors are bonding experiences! What’s more, you could also give emotional support to people who are hurt. They’ll probably remember it in the long-run.
 

Finally, a big part of staying socially healthy is being confident. It can feel awkward or scary trying to make friends. Being confident in yourself helps to reduce this fear. When you feel secure, ask new people to hang out. Sure, they might say no. But, you could also make a great friend!

An illustration of a regular woman, whose shadow shows a superhero.

You can be a superhero! You just have to be confident in yourself.

Strengthening Relationships

Strengthening relationships is just as important as creating them. Again, you have to have both a good number of friends and those friends have to be supportive.
 
One of the best ways to build a relationship is to communicate kindly. This means that you listen to what your friend is saying. Wait until they’re done before you even think about what you’re going to say! Then, make sure you respond to what they said so that they know you’re listening. Friends should care about what the other thinks!
 
This doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything. In fact, sometimes friends might fight. Don’t worry, you can still be friends. Just make sure that you express disagreements in a mature way. Let your friends know how you feel. Then, try to find a solution to the problem together. It’s better to save relationships than to make enemies.

Other Great Resources

Making Friends – Kids’ Health: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&id=1705&np=286

(Video) 20 Things We Should Say More Oftenhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5yCOSHeYn4

(Video) What is Social Healthhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnamTbFAiC8

 

Written by: Noah Louis-Ferdinand