Something that is common for me to hear my clients say when I talk about social self-care is, “But, I talk to my [insert friend/family member here] every day.” In fact, I have fallen victim to using this exact same phrase many times in my caregiving journey.
Don’t get me wrong, we all need that person who we can call in a pinch and help talk us off of whatever ledge we find ourselves on. Having a connection like that is very important but social self-care tends to be a little bit more nuanced than we believe.
If you are like many of us family caregivers, you have even had the unpleasant experience of losing friendships and straining familial relationships because of our caregiving responsibilities. It is difficult for others to understand what it means to be a caregiver if they have not had the experience themselves. So, when we have to start canceling dates, appointments, or not answering texts or returning phone calls then we have those people in our lives who don’t understand the emotional, physical and mental strain that caregiving can place on a person. They feel neglected and abandoned.
It is nobody’s fault.
Yet, as we get deeper into our caregiving journey, it is important that we try to foster those relationships, lean back into being an active participant in our community, and build new connections.
There are many different facets of social self-care that we need to consider.
Social self-care is a connection with your humanity to the humanity of others. Sounds a little contrived but that is the basis for all social activity; to find like-minded individuals who we can connect with and gain support from. It even relates to your connection with your community and your environment.
So, let’s look a little deeper into what this means.
When we venture into social situations we are looking for a positive exchange of ideas and conversations. We are looking to communicate our feelings and needs with others through relationships we have fostered and developed with friends and family. We are looking for interactions that bring comfort and interactions that are easy going.
Hostility, frustration, anger and a host of other negative emotions tend to invade our interactions when we feel closed off from what is going on around us or misunderstood. Fostering our social self-care means that we are searching for those opportunities to also connect with others like ourselves, whether it is based on your religion, ethnic background, creative likes, even our caregiving situations. We are seeking to find those who we can relate to and even, to put ourselves in situations where we are learning about others in our community and how their humanity connects to our humanity. Learning about other cultures, communities or causes helps us practice empathy.
We are all important pieces to how our society functions, engages and interacts. We all have something to offer and in fostering your social self-care you can gain a sense of where you belong in the world, what you have to offer and how you can offer your unique insights and talents to those around you. Having an innate sense of belonging and connection is something we all strive for and that sense can be lost when we spend countless hours behind closed doors because of our caregiving situations. Feeling a loss to that connection can cause anxiety, depression, panic, and other negative emotions and reactions.
Research shows that having strong, healthy relationships and social interactions improve your health both mentally and physically, as well as helps increase your lifespan.
Keeping a solid link to the rest of our community will help ease negativity.
Just like every other aspect of our self-care, social self-care is something that isn’t going to happen overnight, especially if you have been neglecting it. We need to work towards finding these outlets and connections. We need to work on building our friendships, strengthening those we already have, and fostering relationships with our families and communities.
Need a little inspiration to get started? Here are some activities you can do that will serve as your social self-care:
- Join a caregiving support group
- Join a club/group for one your special interests
- Make plans with those who currently support you
- Take a class on something you’ve always wanted to learn and pair up with someone you’ve just met
- Volunteer in your community
- Chat with someone in the waiting room at your next doctor’s appointment
- Married or partnered up? Reinstate date night!
- Join a book club or a movie club – check out Meetup.com for more ideas!
Do you have any social self-care activities you’d like to share? Leave a comment and we’d love to hear what you do to foster your social self-care.
Stay tuned for our next installment: Dimension #4 – Intellectual Self-Care
Websites used for Reference:
National Institute of Health https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/02/do-social-ties-affect-our-health