Social Health: At first glance, social health may be challenging to identify and address, but there are many benefits that come from strengthening your relationships with others. Let’s learn more about how to develop and maintain relationships and how social health can be just as important as physical health.
Defining Social Health:
Social health involves your ability to form satisfying interpersonal relationships with others. It also relates to your ability to adapt comfortably to different social situations and act appropriately in a variety of settings. Spouses, co-workers and acquaintances can all have healthy relationships with one another. Each of these relationships should include strong communication skills, empathy for others and a sense of accountability. In contrast, traits like being withdrawn, vindictive or selfish can have a negative impact on your social health. Overall, stress can be one of the most significant threats to a healthy relationship. Stress should be managed through proven techniques such as regular physical activity, deep breathing and positive self-talk.
Social wellness is the ability to build personal connections with others, deal with conflict and to be a part of a positive social network.
What are some signs of social wellness?
- Development of assertiveness skills not passive or aggressive ones.
- Balancing social and personal time.
- The ability to be who you are in all situations.
- Becoming engaged with other people in your community.
- Valuing diversity and treat others with respect.
- Continually being able to maintain and develop friendships and social networks.
- The ability to create boundaries within relationship boundaries that encourage communication, trust and conflict management.
- Remembering to have fun.
- Having supportive network of family and friends.
Social Determinants Of Health:
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe suggested that the social determinants of health included:
- Social gradients(life expectancy is shorter and disease is more common further down the social ladder)
- Stress(including stress in the workplace)
- Early childhood development
- Social exclusion
- Social support networks
- Availability of healthy food
Learn to manage stress… Before it manages you
It is quite evident that STRESS significantly affect social health. Although stress is a normal part of life, learning to recognize good and bad stress, and how to cope with both, is essential to being emotionally well. How each of us responds to stress is as individual as we are. Chronic stress is harmful for health
Chronic Stress and Health:
Stress is hypothesized to be a major influence in the social determinants of health. There is a relationship between experience of chronic stress and negative health outcomes. There are two ways that this relationship is explained, through both direct and indirect effects of chronic stress on health outcomes.
One possible reason for the relationship between chronic stress and health outcomes is the effect that stress has on the physiology of a person. This is referred to as a direct relationship between chronic stress and health. The long term stress hormone, cortisol, is believed to be the key driver in this relationship. Chronic stress has been found to be significantly associated with chronic low grade inflammation, slower wound healing, increased susceptibility to infections, and poorer responses to vaccines. For example, a study of otherwise healthy adult males found that those with high levels of perceived stress in their lives had significantly longer wound healing times, and that elevated cortisol levels, rather than health behavior responses, appeared to be the main reason for this relationship. Meta-analysis of healing studies has found that there is a robust relationship between elevated stress levels and slower healing for many different acute and chronic conditions. However, it is also important to note that
certain factors, such as coping styles and social support, can mitigate the relationship between chronic stress and health outcomes.
Stress can also be seen to have an indirect effect on health status. One way this happens is due to the strain on the psychological resources of the stressed individual. Chronic stress is common in those of a low socio-economic status, who are having to balance worries about financial security, how they will feed their families, housing status, and many other concerns. Therefore, individuals with these kinds of worries may lack the emotional resources to adopt positive health behaviors. Chronically stressed individuals may therefore be less likely to be able to prioritize their health.
In addition to this, the way that an individual responds to stress can influence their health status. Often, individuals responding to chronic stress will develop coping behaviors, some of which have a positive influences on health and others which have a negative influence. People who cope with stress through positive behaviors such as exercise or social connections may not be as affected by the relationship between stress and health, whereas those with a coping style more prone to over consumption (i.e. emotional eating, drinking, smoking or drug use) are more likely to be see negative health effects of stress. For example, a laboratory study has shown that, while stress did not alter calorie intake or food type eaten when averaged across the sample as a whole, when looking at a subset of the sample who were classed as emotional eaters, high stress levels were associated with eating more high fat and sweet food and a more calorie dense meal overall. Therefore, the authors conclude that stress may compromise the health of certain susceptible individuals (I.e those with an emotional eating coping style).
The detrimental effects of stress on health outcomes are hypothesized to partly explain why countries that have high levels of income inequality have poorer health outcomes compared to more equal countries. Wilkinson and Picket hypothesis in their book The Spirit Level that the stressors associated with low social status are amplified in societies where others are clearly far better off.
As stress is proven to be the root cause of many diseases and an important determining factor of social health, in this section we will cover several topics that can help people to deal with stress better. Topics will include:
- Personal development: To enhance self motivation
- Books & Reviews: To sharpen the saw as learning never ends
- Psychology of Business: Since poor financial situation is one of the major source of stress, proper knowledge in business planing and marketing can significantly enhance financial strength.