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Social Wellness: How are you doing during COVID-19?

Social relationships are vital for our mental health and wellbeing; research shows they can even improve our longevity. Five months into a pandemic where we’re instructed to keep our distance, it may be a good time to evaluate the current state of your relationships.

First, I believe the most important relationship we have is with ourselves. Check in there. Do you like the person you are? Do you encourage yourself or bring yourself down? Do you focus on the steps toward your successes or your mistakes and failures? Do you look in the mirror at your uniqueness or do you only see your perceived flaws? How is that relationship going?

The next relationship, which I know comes first for many, is the relationship you have with your Higher Power. (I only place it second because I know everyone doesn’t have a relationship with their Higher Power.) If that is a relationship you crave, how is it going? Is it a loving relationship, a love/hate relationship or a straight-up hate relationship? Know that Source love is unconditional, so no matter your feelings on the subject, love is coming directly to you all the time. In fact, you carry Source love inside you at all times, which brings us back to the relationship you have with yourself: Are you in touch with the Source love inside yourself and do you allow it to flow from you out into the world? Are you aware that the more loving energy you emit, the more you will attract? When people are looking for more love in their lives, I often ask them, “Are you being loving?” When we sit back and expect people to lavish love on us, or when we withhold love waiting for the other person to love us first, we can hardly expect to gain more love in our lives. If you want more love in your life, you need to be more loving—not in a co-dependent way but in the agape love way. Agape love is altruistic love you pour into the world while receiving the delight of doing so.

Let’s look at your social network. I remember reading a book once, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, that said a woman needed seven men in her life: one to dance with, one to make love to, one to fix things, one to talk to, one to cook for her, one to pay the bills and one I can’t remember—and I’m not 100-percent sure of the ones I do remember. The point is that, when it comes to a social network, some people keep theirs small, either by default or design, while others take the approach of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Whatever your approach, the question is, when you need support, someone to talk to, someone to share your wins with, do you have that person, or multiple people, in your life?

The coronavirus has reduced our ability to spend face-to-face time with our friends, especially without a mask, but creative people have found ways. I saw a video of an inventive man hugging his mother through an apparatus he created; they stood on either side of a hanging plastic sheet with sleeves so they could safely wrap their arms around each other. This genius innovation demonstrates how important human touch is for us.

Coronavirus also helped slow the world down; people commented about having so much time on their hands. Many used that time to reach out to their social networks. I heard several stories of people who had long conversations with school buddies, extended relatives and elderly people living alone. The virus gave us the gift of time to be able to reach out to those who are important to us. Others deepened their social network by doing errands for people in the neighborhood.

If you have as much connection in your life as you want, then your social wellness is perfect.

If you are looking for less connection than you have, you might want to consider creating some boundaries for yourself. I was recently talking with a mother who was drawing boundaries with her son about what she was willing to do, and what she wasn’t, regarding her time with him. He would consume her every minute if she allowed it. You may feel overwhelmed with connection if you are stuck at home with people who demand a lot of your time. In this situation, you may be craving time with a person you don’t live with just for variety. Reach out to someone whose company you enjoy.

When you are looking for more connection with people, you need to look at your behavior in the situation. You are unable to control other people. You can’t sit alone in your home, hoping for others to call or stop by, thinking that’s an effective method for increasing connection. You may have to be the one to take the first step, to take the risk of rejection.

If you want something, you have 100% responsibility for your efforts to get it. If you want more love in your life, you need to be more loving. If you want more friends in your life, you need to be more friendly. If you crave more connection, you need to be more connecting. Assess the vibe you are putting out into the world. Is it the vibe of invitation, without neediness or something else? That’s the vibe that will attract people into your life.

When you are mean and crabby, people tend to shy away from you. When you are depressed and needy, people are afraid to move closer because they fear you will consume them. It’s a bit like Goldilocks—you need to strike the perfect balance. The energy you emit and the behaviors you use to increase your social connection are 100% your responsibility.

You are not, however, responsible for the other person’s response. That is 100% their responsibility, so stop taking responsibility for that. Stay positive, reach out and accept the response you get—ready, rinse, repeat. If you don’t meet with success, try again with someone else. There are unlimited possibilities when you know what you want.

Think of it as marketers do. You are a person someone might enjoy. In order to find the perfect match, you may need to go through a lot of mismatches. If you give up before finding the perfect one for you, you are depriving that person of the great gift you will be for them.

Social wellness has been impacted by coronavirus. It’s up to you to decide if that impact is negative or more positive. What will you do to strengthen, deepen and broaden your social network?

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