Social wellness is the sixth dimension in this eight-part series. Social wellness helps you establish a support system, create a sense of belonging, and enjoy a meaningful connection with your community. It’s a way to hold yourself accountable and connect with others on your journey.
Social Wellness On The Larger Journey To Recovery
Overall wellness is not complete without social health. A person in recovery needs a reliable support system. Establishing meaningful connections with others and with the community as a whole can help build a support group that makes the individual feel loved, heard, and respected. A good group of friends can help you stick to your goals, fight off boredom, and find new ways to stimulate yourself intellectually. It can lead to the development of other healthy habits, such as trying new things or working out.
Social wellness connects closely to emotional wellness. The road to recovery can feel lonely or isolating at times. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and relapse. Making an effort to cultivate a strong social system can keep you more emotionally and mentally stable. If you’re feeling down or close to relapse, call someone in your support group for help. The more people you can rely upon in times of need, the easier it will be to stick to your resolution to stay sober. Mastering social wellness is a necessary part of the overall journey.
Meet New People
Social wellness starts with meeting new people. One of the steps on the road to substance abuse recovery is often leaving behind people who do not serve your current goals. You might have interacted with a bad crowd that contributed to your alcohol or drug use. In recovery, focus on finding new friends who support your new lifestyle. You might meet them at your rehabilitation center or in an addiction support group. If you’re following the advice in the intellectual wellness part of this series, you could meet them at a class or community event.
Meeting new people might make you feel stressed, nervous, or insecure. Remind yourself that you are in control. You have the power to walk out of a social situation at any time. No one is forcing you to make new friends – it is a decision you have made for yourself, to better your life and future. It is important to create a positive social network with genuine connections with others. Excuse yourself, step outside, and take a few deep breaths if you are feeling overwhelmed. Then, return to the gathering with renewed confidence.
Find Belonging In A Group Of Friends
Reflect on your current social needs. Do you enjoy any aspects of your old social life? You might have had a group of friends you hung out with before sobriety, but now that group feels closed off to you. What is important is to note what made you enjoy their company. It is often a sense of belonging people look for in a group of friends. You can find that same sensation with a new group that fits your sober lifestyle. It simply takes time and an open mind.
Make an effort to keep up with old friends who support your journey, as well as trusted family members. Mend relationships your addiction broke, if possible. When meeting new people, practice self-disclosure. Communicate vital information about yourself, such as the fact that you are in recovery. Self-disclosure can ensure the people who stick around support your journey. Practice open communication in other ways as well; in such ways as what you like, dislike, your fears, your dreams, your failures, and your successes.
Communicating openly and honestly can help you avoid creating expectations. You will not feel any pressure to be someone you’re not. If you’re having trouble meeting new people, join a club or organization around a topic about which you are passionate. You’ll immediately have something in common with other attendees – giving you something to discuss. Practice active listening when in a group setting. This can help you become a participant and achieve a sense of belonging.
Maintain Healthy Relationships With Others
Unhealthy relationships are part of what feeds an addiction. Achieving social wellness takes learning how to build and maintain healthy relationships. Keeping in touch is a great first step. Take time when you can to call, text, write, or meet up with people who care about you. A simple hello can show friends you’re thinking of them and that you appreciate the roles they play in your life. Make dates once a week to go to dinner, see a movie, take a class, or do other social activities with your friends. Keep track of when you need to touch base with someone, or when a friend or relative is due for a visit.
Engage With The Broader Community
Once you’ve obtained a close group of friends and healthy relationships, expand your circle to embrace the larger community. One of the steps in most 12-step programs is to carry the message you learned to others struggling with addiction. Even if you are not in a 12-step program, you can benefit from focusing on improving your community as a whole. Boosting where you live can enhance your social wellness and help you practice empathy. It can build your emotional resilience and help you become more comfortable with where you are in life.
Join a support group, club, or organization in your community. Find a place that needs volunteers and donate some of your time or skills. Look online or in the paper to find local events that could be opportunities to meet new people. Join online meet-up groups, and be open to meeting with people from different backgrounds. Connect with others in your community any way you can. Give others the gift of your time, energy, attention, or a special skill, and you will reap the rewards.