group of friends getting together and improving their social health with a dinner on the terrace with other buildings in the background

How To Improve Your Social Health & Why It Matters

by | May 8, 2024 | Insights

7 minutes


As the monoculture dissipates and people live mostly online, social health matters now, more than ever. Social health, or social wellness, refers to the part of our life that deals with staying connected with others. As humans, we crave interaction with one another, being deeply social animals. 

This sometimes invisible aspect of health is left by the wayside when more urgent parts of life cloud our minds. 

LPC Jayna Bonfini, who co-edited the DSM-5, has observed that “Generation Z as a whole lacks many of the social skills that previous generations learned through face-to-face interactions.”

At a conference in 2021, she mentioned that deep, personal relationships are difficult for Gen Z to form. While they may develop casual relationships at work or school, deeper and lasting bonds often elude them. (American Counseling Association)

With younger generations yearning for the social connection needed to maintain their mental health, which communication skills can help achieve this? There’s no perfect solution for a societal problem of this magnitude, but every person can take small steps toward increasing social connectedness and building healthy relationships. 

What is Social Health and Wellness?

Even if you’re an introvert who enjoys recharging alone, all humans need other humans. Some animals can survive alone (like raccoons). But like wolves, humans are inherently social animals. We need each other to survive. 

But why? Well, stronger social ties lead to higher confidence, feeling supported, and having a sense of belonging to your social network. As a community-oriented species, humans hold each other up and rely on one another.

Think of a time you were overwhelmed. Work was more demanding than ever, and life decided to get in the way. A flat tire, an allergic reaction, a sick kid. You probably called a trusted friend or family member to help alleviate some of the weight, someone willing to pick you up, cover you at work, or babysit for the day. These situations show how much people have each other’s back. Imagine how much worse the stress is when there’s no one to call. 

Feeling respected and cared for protects against stress, so having social support serves as a protective factor when it comes to our mental health (Electronic Physician).

Through community and strong relationships, we gain social capital. Social capital is made up of resources individuals in society gain through social relationships. Structural social capital deals with tangible connectedness like being a member of an organization, and cognitive social capital deals with feelings of belonging, trust, and shared values (The European Journal of Psychiatry). 

In a review of the evidence that analyzes the social determinants of health, it was found that: 

And more than just mental health are at stake. A 9-year study in the 70s found that “people who lacked social and community ties were more likely to die in the follow-up period than those with more extensive contacts” (American Journal of Epidemiology).

[For more information on this aspect of mental health, See: How Relational Health Leads To Cultural Competence In Marketing]

Now that you know just how important social health is to our mental health and quality of life, what can you do to improve it?

Here are a few ideas. 

1. Consider What’s Stopping You 

Address the barriers in your life. What is stopping you from socializing more? Perhaps it’s a busy work schedule, maybe too much time spent in the digital world. 

If time is your main barrier, take a look at what you’re already doing. Maybe you can take lunch with your colleagues more often, or invite a friend to a family event (if they don’t mind). 

If your barrier is more akin to fear of rejection, lack of confidence, or simply not knowing how to start a conversation, then a good start is recognizing these barriers and admitting them to yourself. Seeing a professional can help you build a toolbox and overcome these social hurdles. 

The LPC we mentioned earlier, Bonfini, sees clients with similar barriers and may, for instance, “have the client use the DBT skill ‘opposite action’ which encourages them to choose the exact opposite of what their emotions tell them to do. So, instead of isolating, the client would go out and engage with others or perhaps even address the situation that is causing them distress rather than avoiding it.”

If professional help is out of your budget, start by setting achievable goals for yourself. If going out once a month is already huge for you, start by trying to do just that consistently. And take note of how increasing social activity makes a difference to your overall contentment and well-being!

2. More Than Just Work: Engage in Hobbies

We all enjoy our jobs to varying degrees, and whether you love your job or you hate it, you most likely enjoy a plethora of other activities! Engaging in hobbies not only nurtures your personal growth but also provides a fertile ground for building social connections outside of professional contexts.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to make bread. Or you love to read. Tennis lover? Curious about ceramics? Dive into community classes or local teams who share a common interest. This provides an easy starting point for conversations and can naturally lead to deeper relationships.

Also, such classes and activities often come with commitments that make us more likely to engage in consistent social interaction. This is particularly beneficial to anyone who struggles with social skills, particularly initiating social content.  

3. Strengthen Existing Connections

It’s often easier to deepen existing relationships than to start new ones from scratch. Make a concerted effort to stay in touch with old friends, colleagues, or relatives you haven’t spoken to in a while. 

Schedule a meet-up, maybe something regular if the person lives nearby — like a weekly coffee date or monthly dinner party. Sometimes social situations require a bit of planning, but your future self will thank you.

When you do interact with people who matter to you, focus on quality communication. Share your feelings openly, and practice active listening. This won’t only improve your social health, but it may do the same for your loved ones. Meaningful relationships are nurtured with intention.

Strengthening these ties can lead to increased support networks which are essential during both good times and bad, enhancing your overall mental and emotional well-being.

4. Remember Small Steps Go A Long Way

Improving social health doesn’t require grand gestures or overwhelming changes to your daily life. It’s all about small, consistent actions. 

In time, these small, consistent actions — sending a text to check in on a friend, asking a coworker about their day, or complimenting a stranger — will significantly impact your social wellness, building trust and a sense of community over time.

Once you can rely on your social network and feel fulfilled by relationships with people and the deeper connections you’ve built, it will boost your confidence. If anxiety in social situations is something you struggle with, this slow and consistent way of becoming accustomed to social interactions should gradually reduce the anxiety you associate with them.


Enhancing social health is crucial for both our mental well-being and overall quality of life. As we move more towards online interactions, the importance of face-to-face connections grows.

By tackling personal barriers, engaging in shared activities, nurturing existing relationships, and embracing small, consistent social steps, we can improve our social wellness. Every interaction, no matter how minor, helps build a supportive network that can safeguard against mental distress and enrich our lives.

Let’s give our social health the attention it deserves to foster a healthier, more connected society. Health & Wellness brands, especially those focusing on mental health, should stress the importance of social health to their audience. If you offer a health and wellness product, consider integrating meet-up elements to aid with social health.

Need help creating content educating consumers on the importance of fostering social ties for mental health? Reach out to us here. 



Elizabeth Williams

Content Writer

See More By Elizabeth Williams