Wellness tip: Putting the ‘health’ in healthy relationships

Social connectedness is crucial to survival, and keeping these bonds strong can also benefit physical and mental health.

In 1995, two social psychologists posed the argument that the concept of belongingness is a basic human need1. Since then, the dawn of the World Wide Web and social media as we know it today has made social connectedness easier in some ways, and harder in others.

According to The University of Arizona’s Telemedicine Program, feelings of loneliness are linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety, heart disease and heart failure, stroke, dementia and premature death. What’s more, the effects of sustained loneliness have been equated to smoking 15 cigarettes per day2. Luckily, building and maintaining strong social connections is one way to combat these deleterious effects.

How does one measure social connectedness? The CDC defines social connectedness as reflecting the number, quality and diversity of relationships people have that cultivate a sense of belonging, value and support3. This could also mean cultivating a sense of community.

Staying social can have shockingly positive outcomes for health and wellness. These connections make us stronger, figuratively and literally — according to various sources, strong social bonds can help to prevent heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression and anxiety3.

PositivePsychology.com offers five ways to enhance social well being, including: expressing gratitude to others, performing random but consistent acts of kindness, practicing loving kindness meditation or LKM, sharing positive experiences with others and reflecting interest in others’ positive experiences, and seeking and maintaining high-quality relationships4.


[1] ResearchGate. “The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation.” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/15420847_The_Need_to_Belong_Desire_for_Interpersonal_Attachments_as_a_Fundamental_Human_Motivation. Accessed Nov. 26, 2023.

[2] University of Arizona, Telemedicine Program. “Why is Social Health Important for Our Overall Wellness?” https://telemedicine.arizona.edu/blog/why-social-health-important-our-overall-wellness. Accessed Nov. 26, 2023.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “How Does Social Connectedness Affect Health?” https://www.cdc.gov/emotional-wellbeing/social-connectedness/affect-health.htm. Accessed Nov. 26, 2023.

[4] PositivePsychology.com. “What Is Social Wellbeing? 12+ Activities for Social Wellness.” https://positivepsychology.com/social-wellbeing/. Accessed Nov. 26, 2023.