The Seven Pillars of Wholistic Wellbeing Part 5: Social Wellbeing
Social Wellbeing is about valuing the relationships with the people closest to you — relationships that make you thrive and bring you joy. You can have those relationships with members of your real family, but also with a chosen family: your friends, colleagues, and confidantes.
Strong social ties bring stability and comfort in times of need and help us thrive in times of plenty. Unfortunately, average social wellbeing has tanked in the past couple of years due to repeated lockdowns which, for the most part, have crippled relationships and friendships alike, making it harder — and in some cases virtually impossible — to see others in the flesh. While technology offers a lifeline to these relationships, it does not come close to replicating the authenticity of face-to-face contact.
Social Wellbeing is thus more important than ever in a modern world where the social fabric has become fragmented. In fact, the word ‘important’ doesn’t begin to cover it; Social Wellbeing is positively vital. Studies have shown that people’s social networks are predictors of mortality as powerful and accurate as common lifestyle and clinical risks such as obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Social Wellbeing is thus vital for maintaining other aspects of wellbeing, and therefore is essential to Wholistic Wellbeing overall. When recovering from illness, Social Wellbeing is key to increasing resilience and giving a sense of support.
Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access to Social Wellbeing. I was lucky enough that, even in lockdown, Social Wellbeing was something I experienced daily, as I spent time with my loved ones and felt a sense of safety and security within my family.
Others do not have this luxury. Almost half the population living amongst the world’s most deprived communities have a severe lack of support, compounding the difficulties they face. Economic deprivation runs alongside social disenfranchisement, and this is something I want to change.
Despite the vast differences that exist between me and marginalised people in developing countries, illness is the one thing I can empathise with. Mine may have been brought upon by burnout, but the symptoms were no less unpleasant. I was lucky enough that I had solid structures of Social Wellbeing to help put me back on track. This is something I want those less fortunate to have access to as well.
At RoundGlass, we have developed all kinds of initiatives, webinars and online courses. It is my way of imparting my passion for Wholistic Wellbeing with the rest of you.
“But is Wholistic Wellbeing something I can learn?” you might ask. Yes, it is.
When I was growing up in India, I had a tutor in a handful of subjects who would teach me three times a week, one hour for each session. I remember him telling me he had one job: to make me love those subjects. Those words stuck with me as we met each week, no matter how briefly, and they have remained with me ever since. My tutor was right: teachers are there to make you love what you learn, and once you’re inspired, the work becomes easy.
RoundGlass courses like those offered in the Meditation Collective, or initiatives like the End of Life Collective, are there to make you fall in love with Wholistic Wellbeing; with taking care of yourself; with putting yourself first; with living a life of harmony and abundance. The teachers at RoundGlass are there because I chose them: they are friends who have taught me to better myself, like mindful education consultant Curtis Smith, mindfulness coach Pamla Michel, and meditation teacher Santy Wang. Their collaboration with me on RoundGlass is a tribute to the strong relationship we have fostered over the years.
Besides falling in love, these courses are also there to make you think about subjects we often avoid in polite conversation. One of these is death. The End of Life Collective (EOL) is designed to destigmatize the taboo that is death, so that we may prepare for it — and for grief — more pragmatically and usefully. EOL is not one about exploiting death for profit; it is there to facilitate the process of dying and of grief for individuals and their families. Our community of caregivers and care seekers to help you and your loved ones with one of life’s most important times.
EOL hosts a diverse team of experts led by Michael Hebb, the end-of-life expert who came up with the idea of the Death Over Dinner movement seven years ago and convinced over a million people to discuss mortality with loved ones and friends.
Destigmatising the subject of death is vital to Social Wellbeing, explains my friend Megan Devine, grief coach at RoundGlass:
You survive grief because you have a community, whatever that looks like for you, in real life or online, or a combination of things. You have a community that is strong enough to withstand the solution of your life. You have a community who is able to accompany you and support you without trying to fix it. Community is the best indicator for survival.
As she noted, no one has a perfect community, but the people who seem to do well are those who can reach out to others as they know how to ask for help and tell the truth about what’s really happening and how they really feel. Learning to open up is one of life’s most important lessons, and one I hope you will master along the road to Wholistic Wellbeing.
Developing Social Wellbeing should be an ongoing process that demands engagement and time. Spending time with your biological (or chosen) family, either by bringing relatives (or friends) together or attending an event which they throw, is a simple way of maintaining relationships which form the backbone of Social Wellbeing. You will feel more supported and you will also support others more.