My Forgotten Self-Care: Social WellbeingJul 07, 2021
For anyone who needs to hear this: you can decide what kinds of friends and people you want to attract and have around. With summer starting and so many of us opening up the doors to the "COVID-free" social-sphere again, I want to invite you to stay mindful.
If I'm totally honest, my social wellbeing has been whack for, well, most of my life. In fact, I just recently realized that though I work pretty dang hard to keep my emotional, mental, physical and spiritual dimensions healthy, I'm embarrassed to share that I really had no idea "social" could even be on the list. I try to avoiding say "should," but I think I can even say "should be on the list."
According to Positive Psychology, "Social interactions, both in terms of quality and quantity, can have a short- and long-term influence on mental wellbeing and physical health." Namely, friendships. What?!
Here are the bens:
Social bonds such as those with partners and friends can influence our health habits and behaviors, which can influence our health and longevity.
Social support can reduce stress and enhance emotional and psychological wellbeing, positively influencing health behaviors and physical health.
Positive relationships can boost cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine responses, which can affect longevity and health in the long run.
I've always felt strong in my romantic relationships. For whatever reason, I find romantic love and connection easy to understand (Venus in Taurus, maybe?), but friendships have generally felt complex, intimidating and (uh oh) burdensome.
So I did some deep diving into myself, my shadow and my potential reasoning for all this.
Yes, I found many childhood wounds, fears and circumstances that have made me wary of close social relationships, but most of all, I discovered that my intentions with friends have always been unclear.
Unlike romance, business and family, I hadn't defined what I wanted a friendship to look like. I didn't even know that I could, actually. Maybe it's my design background, but I am a firm believer that we can curate our lives. So how did I forget this one?
When I started looking over the types of people in my circle, I found that I had, like I always have, attracted a lot of clingy energy. Reflection left me unsurprised, as the last intention I had literally set in 2014 was, "to be completely 10000% present and give everything to my friends."
Talk about unsustainable. Talk about draining. Talk about burdensome!
And do you know what kinds of people answer to that kind of energetic intention?
And that's on me.
So here's what I did:
- I got my values straight by taking this test (finding that, surprise: independence is my number one).
- I set a new intention: "to stay with myself." This felt like the most authentic, un-people-please-y thing I could do and it led to massive breakthroughs. No more self-abandoning for friendships.
- I tuned in and set some boundaries.
- I communicated to people around me that I am working on setting boundaries so just in case they're coming, they're aware I'm in process. This made the actual communication of them much easier for me.
- I made a list of qualities of the type of friend(s) I want to call in (just like I did to call in my fiancé).
- I made some cuts and rearranged some social priorities (who do I want to spend more time with and who leaves me feeling depleted?).
Here's my list for the types of qualities I'm personally calling in in a friend right now:
- Funny/Sense of Humor
- Talk Story
I share this to offer myself as a mirror to you or anyone who may find resonance with this. Social wellbeing is complex and it's achievable. Try my steps and let me know how it goes. Anything I missed? Let's learn together.