From the moment we were born, interactions with others have affected our lives, powerfully influencing how we navigate each day. Scientific research discovered that our ties to others cause long-lasting effects on our health. Social connections help protect health and lengthen life, producing compelling impacts in daily life experiences. Social aspects of wellbeing dimensions should focus on developing skills that assist in relating to others in meaningful ways. This fosters enriching connections with others, contributing to a sense of belonging, critical for optimal wellbeing.

Expressing ourselves clearly and associating with others in effective ways increases trustworthy social connections, nourishing healthy relationships. Supporting others can also sustain us through difficult times when we listen without judgment or blame, honestly share personal feelings and needs, and make fervent efforts to be consistently caring and empathetic. Such affirmative efforts, however, may generate expectations of receiving similar treatment in return. This experiencing of human nature at its best is a natural anticipation. Yet the opposite may happen, potentially leading to confrontation and conflict. Then, it becomes crucial to recall that our personalities are uniquely formed via a plethora of relationships and experiences, calling for judicious compromise, which will help alleviate potential conflicts escalating into personal attacks. Likewise, making empowering choices to set reasonable boundaries can protect us from prolonged unhealthy, perhaps abusive, relationships. Respectful disagreements are healthy as long as we avoid overly critical exchanges. On the whole, our personal “healthy habits toolkit” must include building support systems in ways that maintain longterm health and wellbeing.

For over a year, I have enjoyed reconnecting with members of my high school “community” as we prepare for our 50th year “Class of ‘69” reunion. Creating opportunities and utilizing local venues to spend quality time with as many classmates as possible has been a major goal of our committee. Our social connection has maintained strength since graduation. Finding classmates we lost touch with has been important. Another goal has been to give back to our community that offered so much support in our youth, and this became a significant way to broaden our social connection. Last reunion, we created “The Alumni Legacy Scholarship”, actively raising funds for a deserving high school graduate. Now, we are increasing efforts by providing two scholarships in honor of those class members we have lost. This is a worthy cause we sincerely care about; our hard work will unquestionably impact the lives of two SHS 2020 graduates. We celebrate this accomplishment created via connecting as old friends, increasing our happiness and self-esteem by investing in our community’s youth.

Ultimately, strong, healthy relationships are critical in our lives, impacting our physical and mental wellbeing as well. At any age, improving personal relationships by nurturing social connections can lead to incredible results. Strengthen social connections in your own life in ways that have true meaning for you. Empower yourself by letting life-giving skills support you: discover the amazing power of social connections.

 

Teresa (Teddy) E. Araas, PhD, C-IAYT, CHES, E-RYT500, RPYT, a certified Yoga Therapist, owns Balanced Living Health & Wellbeing Consultants, LLC and Santosha Yoga. She teaches doctoral courses in health promotion and wellness and holds an adjunct research fellowship at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah.