A person’s ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships, as well as socialize and interact with others, is the basic concept of social well-being. The prime focus of achieving this dimension of well-being is creating positive relationships with family, friends, coworkers and classmates.
Stephanie Willis, Wellness and Educational Outreach Coordinator at Oakland University Recreation and Well-Being, explained that for her, social well-being is just getting involved in different activities or conversations, whether it’s with her family, friends or coworkers.
“That’s just for me personally,” she said, “but it can vary depending on who you ask.”
Being involved and having strong relationships is important to health because it provides people with the ability to connect and relate to others, increasing their sense of belonging and inclusion in society. It also increases a person’s feeling of support from others when they experience and strengthen these connections.
When people feel as though they are connected to society and their peers, this can improve things like overall happiness and self confidence. Having the ability to create this connection is what social well-being is.
Besides building a strong social support network, social well-being also includes participating in healthy communication, handling interpersonal conflict in a healthy and respectful way and interacting with a diverse array of people from different cultures, backgrounds and those who hold different beliefs.
“Even though the basis of social well-being is getting involved, we also recognize that you need time to yourself because that’s how you can then be your best self when you’re around others,” Willis said. “Taking the time to regroup if you have a stressful week, or doing something relaxing to rejuvenate, it’s so important.”
Willis explained that utilizing alone time to allow yourself to destress will help set yourself up for successful social interactions because it will make it easier for your true self to come out.
Since social well-being is achieved in unique ways for each individual, there is a variety of ways to promote and improve it.
Getting involved in campus organizations/groups, along with volunteering and/or completing community service is one way. This brings together people with shared interests, making interaction easier.
“I think social well-being is promoted in almost everything we do in the Rec Center,” Willis said. “It’s just really engaging with others that you might not know or participating in events we offer. It doesn’t have to be one specific way, there’s so many different things.”
One example of a way OU Rec Well promotes social well-being is simply by encouraging people to come to the Rec Center. Once they’re in, there are many opportunities for involvement, like participating in club and/or intramural sports, going to a GroupX class or attending a program like a Lunch and Learn or Walk with Campus Leaders. These experiences offer opportunities to interact with many people and potentially make new friends.
The Recreation Leadership Council (RLC) is another opportunity for the campus community to get involved and improve their social well-being. The organization provides members with quality leadership, networking and professional development opportunities not only in the Rec Center, but also beyond, helping mold members into well-developed professionals. RLC is open to anyone to join.
Willis’ advice for those wishing to improve their social well-being is to start where they’re comfortable because that makes it easier to branch out. A good starting point is joining a student organization or simply talking to someone new in class.
“Find different things to get involved with and look for individuals that you share a similar interest with,” Willis said. “Finding that common ground makes it a little bit easier, especially if you’re introverted, to put yourself out there.”