FORT POLK, La. –
July is Social Wellness Month and the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital public affairs officer discussed the topic of social wellness with the chief of behavioral health, Lt. Col. Alexander Ragan.
The Defense Health Agency describes social wellness as critical to overall well-being, suggesting relationships can offer critical support during challenging times. In your own words, what exactly is social wellness?
Social wellness is the relationships we have with others and how we interact with each other. It is how we are able to recognize when others are struggling and how we offer support to each other. It involves getting to know others, letting them get to know us and building upon that for a nurturing, healthy and supportive relationship. In short, it is connecting with others and maintaining that connection.
As a licensed clinical social work and a member of the chief of behavioral health at BJACH, do you see a lot of patients who are suffering due to lack of social outlets and networks?
Yes, in practice, we do see some people for anxiousness and stress related to their struggles connecting with or the loss of connection to others. This impacts their day-to-day lives. The last few years have been challenging to maintain social wellness. Connection with others can be challenging in general, but during COVID, we have had to be purposeful and creative to find, develop and sustain those connections. Social distancing was difficult at first for most of us, but we became used to it as it became our new normal.
Now, as we are able to be around more people in social settings, we are having to dust off our ability to connect with each other. Some of us feel fearful when in social settings, while others are completely comfortable connecting again. This apprehension should not be ignored. There are some things you can do for your unease and facilitate connecting with others.
Some ways to maintain or improve your social wellness and address the nervousness includes limiting social media, use video calling apps and have regular check-ins with family and friends either face-to-face or over the phone. Slowly introduce yourself to more social events like going to the park, outside restaurants or simply having a conversation when you get a cup of coffee or while waiting in line at the grocery store.
Why is social wellness so important?
Connection to others is necessary for optimal health. The benefits of good social wellness lower rates of anxiousness and depressive symptoms, higher self-esteem, greater empathy towards others and stronger, more trusting and cooperative relationships.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about tips to improve your social wellness visit: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/national-guard/psychological-health-program/social-wellness/