Your social environment has a significant effect on your mental and emotional wellness. A typical day may involve multiple visits to social media sites, a commute to an office with a negative social culture, and time spent with friends and family, all before starting the cycle all over again.
We are surrounded by people indefinitely. As a result, it is very easy to catch yourself in a social environment that is not beneficial to your wellbeing. How do you ensure that you are taking time out for self-care and detoxing your social environment?
- Place yourself as the priority.
No one wants to seem “selfish,” but there are times when it’s okay to treat yourself as the most important being in your environment. No one can take care of you better than you.
Keep your psychological wellness in mind when you take on something new in your social environment. Do you need to help your friend out of another negative situation when it seems that they consistently attract and accept negative energy into their environment, and never take your advice on eliminating it? No. Do you need to help a colleague with another project at work when you’re already stressed, swamped, and undervalued? No. When potential responsibilities arise, assess your current mental and emotional state and choose your next move accordingly.
2. After you have established yourself as a priority, look at your relationships.
It’s no secret that toxic friendships and/or partnerships are not advantageous to your wellness. Simply put: if a relationship causes more harm than good, eliminate it. Choose to instead fill your valuable time with activities that will give you fulfillment and put you closer to your goals. Your former friend will either get the hint and switch their approach to communicating, or they will find someone else to unload their burden on.
Work relationships are significant, too. Studies show that a toxic workplace “can lead to psychological and physical responses,” and that “the relationship between occupation environment and mood disorders seem to be reciprocal, creating vicious cycles.”1 What this means is that if you were already having elevated levels of stress in other areas of your life, negative energy from your boss or co-workers will only exacerbate it.
Step back for a minute. Think of what you’d like to change; if you have the ability to change it, take action. How can you transform your environment into a productive place you actually want to be everyday? Can you apply to another department, or even an external position? Are you in management, and able to implement new initiatives to improve the workplace for your employees? Do it! Our blog post on unhealthy work environments contains more tips for these types of situations.
- Don’t isolate yourself.
Now that you know your wellness is paramount, and you have discontinued lending yourself to outside negative energy, find new, healthy relationships to build on. Catch up with an old friend, spark up conversation with your new co-worker, or visit the new mom on the block.
Perceived social isolation, or feeling like you don’t have meaningful relationships, “threatens the health, life, and genetic legacy of members of many different social species.” Humans need physical interactions in their everyday social environment! Don’t get so caught up in your goals that you don’t have someone to share them with. Just logging onto social media isn’t enough. Find a group near you with interests aligned with your own. Go to the gym and sign up for a class and spark up conversation. Join the board at your spiritual center, alma mater, or your kid’s school. Creating meaningful relationships can be as simple as getting out there and talking to people!
Keep checking in with yourself to make sure you are maturing in and cultivating your social environment. All 3 of these steps will need to be continuously worked on, but they will eventually become a way of life. And improving your relationships with friends, family, and colleagues will have another beneficial effect—it’ll improve your relationship with yourself.
Zaje’ Richardson is a certified Wellness and Life Coach specializing in Life Transformation. She enjoys writing, singing, spending time with her husband and three sons, as well as spreading knowledge about total wellness in the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies. You can find her on her website, wellism.org, as well as on Instagram and Twitter, @lifecoachzaje.