As people emerge from a global pandemic, the summer of 2021 is shaping up to be a welcome return to a more “normal” lifestyle that includes plenty of in-person socializing once friends and family are fully vaccinated. July is Social Wellness Month and as regions open up, many people may find they have to re-learn how to interact socially with others after many months in isolation.
Social Wellness Month was founded and sponsored by the counselling group Words of Wellness and is celebrated each July to help increase awareness about the importance of healthy social interaction to support overall happiness and well-being. Research shows that in addition to eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, a strong social community helps older adults live longer, manage stress, and recover from illness.
If COVID-19 restrictions have led to social isolation over the past 15 months, this summer is an ideal time to reconnect with close friends or family members. By starting with a small gesture like meeting at an outdoor patio for a coffee date, or planning a hike on a local train, people can begin again to nurture the relationships that promote social well-being. Re-engaging in book clubs, team sports or a support group can help individuals feel a greater sense of belonging and connection.
Many people may find that face-to-face social interaction after months in isolation can cause some anxiety. But by practicing small gestures – saying hello to your neighbor, volunteering your time, or joining a local senior center, older adults can start to flex their social muscles and gain the benefits of a strong social network. Practice being an extrovert and before long, your social circle will grow and bring greater health and wellness.
Learn more about improving your social health with tips for your healthiest self from the National Institutes of Health here.