• Megan Baldwin, LMSW

"What is Social Health?"

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

When I first began developing my Social Health coaching program, I asked myself a lot of questions. I asked them as a way to continue challenging myself throughout the creative process (and try to make my research professors from grad school proud). One of the first and most central questions that I continually asked was, "What is social health?" And let me tell you, there are a lot of great definitions out there. Just give it a good Google search and I'm sure you will find one that resonates with you. In my research findings, however, rather than using one single definition, I discovered a similar theme within most of these definitions. It can be summarized as such: "social health is a category of one's holistic health that encompasses the relationships and interactions within various communities that someone experiences throughout their lifetime." These relationships include (but are not limited to) your primary relationships (those closest to you - think family and closest friends), secondary relationships (people you are acquaintances/friendly with, socialize with, colleagues), and the various communities and systems you interact with (workplace, schools, churches, friend circles, etc.).

The next question I asked myself throughout this writing process was: "why does social health matter?" For me, in my relational heart, I know that social health and relationships matter because, "they just do." The importance of relationships and community is a lesson I have been reminded countless times. I have been fortunate to have some pretty amazing relationships in my life, and to have had different experiences within various communities and systems. I am certain that it is because of these experiences that I am passionate about this work, but not everyone has walked my walk (and that's not the most "scientific" or "evidence-based" answer), so I wanted to share with you all a little bit of my findings as well in hopes that this will not only resonate with you, but encourage you to begin taking care of your own social health.

Social health is one of the foundations of our evolutionary makeup. From the time we are

born, we crave social connection. Humankind began forming communities for survival tactics to live

through difficult environmental conditions. As evolution progressed, community outside of the

immediate family unit became an essential part of survival, due to the addictive nature of chemicals that are released when we form interpersonal connections such as serotonin, vasopressin, and dopamine (just to name a few). Decades of research has been conducted about the impact that our relationships have on our physical and mental health.

Several studies have concluded that loneliness and isolation can lead to various significant physical health issues including Alzheimer's, hypertension, low blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and various other health complications. While I recognize that we are ultimately responsible as individuals for our own health and wellness, it is important to acknowledge and assess how you and your health are impacted by your social connections. That is why our social health matters. We all need connection with other people to some varying degree; our bodies and brains depend on it. Perhaps one of the best lessons we can learn from our social journey is the innate need for us to stand up for and rely on each other and not just ourselves.

If you would like to learn more about social health and ways to improve those aspects of your life, please reach out! Book a FREE consultation or email me at info@mbchealth.co.

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