Health Promotion - Social wellness: Get outside and socialize!

June 9, 2022

Summer is just around the corner! What better time to re-connect socially with family and friends outdoors after a long winter season? Studies show that we need the support a social network provides in order to maintain good mental and physical well-being.

Human beings are hard-wired for social connection and without it our health can be at risk. We often receive social support from these connections, including family, friends, and co-workers.

These people are part of our social support network and include people we trust, people we can go to for help, and people who can provide comfort and emotional support.

Social support provides many benefits to our mental health. It can protect us from the harmful effects of too much stress and is an essential part of our mental fitness. Social support can also provide us with a sense of belonging, increased self-confidence, and strength when facing difficult situations. It can help reduce the symptoms of stress and prevent stress-related illness, including depression. Social connection activities can be combined with outdoor and nature related activities to reap the benefits of both!

We can use the summer months and the great outdoors to strengthen the ties to our social networks.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Experience different cultural events

Many cultural events take place in the summer months and outdoors. Check with your local municipality for a list of cultural events that take place outdoors. For example, try exploring Indigenous sites and activities like storytelling circles, the making of bannock, and throat-singing concerts.

Spend more time in nature

Any way you can spend time in nature, even if for just a few minutes, is a good idea. Walking, biking, swimming, canoeing, picnicking, taking a very short break in a park nearby, are all great ways to boost your mental health. Studies have found that spending time in nature reduces stress levels, restores our ability to concentrate, improves our attention span, enhances positive emotions, improves our sleep, boosts our mood and makes us happier. It might even improve our ability to reflect on life problems!

Try forest bathing

In Japan, forest bathing is called “shinrin-yoku.” It’s the practice of taking in the atmosphere of the forest and using all your senses, slowly and purposefully. The combination of spending time in nature and mindfulness can improve your well-being and decrease stress.

Mood walks for mental health

Mood walks or “green exercise” is a great way to socialize while improving both physical and mental health. Research has found a 90‑minute walk in a natural setting can be a form of therapy that has mental health benefits. By participating in a nature walk of any kind you can boost your mood and reduce overthinking.

Participate in a neighbourhood clean-up

This is a great activity to socialize with the people in your community and beautify your neighbourhood at the same time. Check out messages from your local municipal offices or community associations to find out if one is happening near you.

Enhance your mental and physical well-being this summer by taking time to connect with nature, do something different, and get together with those people whom you enjoy spending time with.

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