These days, it seems the word “social” means jumping in front of a smartphone or computer to engage in social media. However, there are benefits to real human contact. In fact, research from the University of Minnesota finds that living in isolation is as bad for your health as smoking or high blood pressure.

July is social wellness month, so this is a great time to find an excuse to connect with other people (not that you really need one). It doesn’t mean you have to plan a high school reunion in your living room, but getting together to catch up with a friend can go a long way. Social wellness is also about knowing yourself better. Here are seven ways to boost your social wellness this July…

1. Join a Gym

Becoming a member of a fitness club usually puts you with other people by default. Many times you end up connecting with someone that can help you reach your fitness goals, or at least help spot you when lifting weights.

The University of Minnesota’s Taking Charge website also suggests joining a hiking club if you prefer the great outdoors to the confines of a fitness facility. You can take in the fresh air while keeping pace with a group of like-minded individuals.

2. Volunteer

The world wouldn’t work the same without those willing to give up some of their free time to join a cause or help achieve a goal through volunteering. The thing is, volunteering will give you something arguably more valuable than money, and that’s fulfillment.

As Greatist.com points out, being generous doesn’t drain you, it leaves you with the desire to be more generous. Volunteering helps you feel useful, which is an important human social element, and while the idea is to not expect anything in return, seeing a smile or reaching a goal can give you a natural high.

3. Choose a Hobby

Chances are there are others out there that enjoy the same things as you do. From photography to knitting, you can easily become engaged with a group that can help propel you to the next level of your craft while making friends in the process.

As LinkedSenior.com explains, hobbies can help you in many areas of your life from social connectedness to even enhancing your immune system and reducing stress. Hobbies can also help push your abilities to the next level, which is good for your memory and self-esteem, points out the blog post on the site.

4. Nurture your Friendships

Perhaps you’ve been spending too much time with one person, or you’ve been meaning to catch up with some old friends but just haven’t made the time. Well, now’s always a good opportunity to change this.

However, in the spirit of social wellness, Huffington Post also reminds you to be aware when a friendship has run its course. Despite being the best of friends at one time, you may find yourself naturally parting ways with some people, and that’s okay. Don’t force it.

5. Focus on your Own Needs

Being effective socially doesn’t mean giving everything you have to others, especially if they don’t have your best interests in mind. University of New Hampshire Health Services notes a socially well person has assertiveness and the ability to be themselves in different company.

It also means you have “the ability to create boundaries” within relationships that encourage communication, trust, and conflict management, notes the university. That means setting aside some “me” time on top of social obligations.

6. Resolve Conflicts

Getting into escalated arguments is not a pillar of social wellness. Illinois State University notes to be a happy and socially well person you can learn to use humor to shut down awkward situations. “Happy individuals use humor to resolve tense or awkward situations,” notes the university, and suggests using your judgment when applying humor to a situation.

It notes that avoiding conflict and bottling it up can lead to “serious health consequences”, and that part of resolving conflict is being accountable for your own actions. Taking care of disagreements effectively is a key to being happy, notes the university.

7. Connect with a Pet

Who says social wellness means interacting with humans? Greatist.com says that bringing a dog into your life is a healthy decision for your physical and mental health. To be more specific, Greatist suggests getting a puppy (perhaps to form an earlier bond).

The site says that owning a dog means lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increased activeness for you as the owner (and likely the canine as well). This benefit is not isolated to dogs. Cats (and other animals) can also help boost self-esteem and overall health.

Source: http://www.activebeat.com

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