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Busting Social Wellness Myths

First published on LinkedIn.

 

Welcome to the July edition of #TanaSpeaks with Dr. Tana M. Session. This is a monthly newsletter designed to expand your perspective in the workplace. Don't miss an issue and be sure to +subscribe.


Social wellness is a universal need and there’s more to it than work-life balance. Social wellness refers to the relationships we have and how we interact with others. Our relationships can offer support during difficult times. Social wellness involves building healthy, nurturing, and supportive relationships as well as fostering a genuine connection with those around you. 


Our exposure to social media often has us mistaking social wellness for self-care but that’s only part of the entire picture. With good social wellness, we can achieve work-life balance, increased connection to our community, better mental health, and a sense of meaning and impact on our work. It can also enhance employee loyalty and productivity, increase retention rates, and decrease the cost and time of hiring new employees.



As you can see from the poll results, most people are unsure how their organization promotes social wellness at work. This is concerning given how important social wellness is to our overall well-being. The next most common choice was employee resource groups, which demonstrates how important it is to create opportunities for social connection at work.

Social wellness is also deeply tied to DEIB because it is a core pillar to strengthening psychological safety. We need to cultivate good relationships at work to support our mental health. Employees cannot be their best selves at work if they are not able to bring their full authentic selves to work. In an environment where one might hide parts of their identity to fit in, relationships cannot thrive and grow. 


Let’s go over some social wellness myths and talk about why they are not true.


Myth #1: If I or my team is fully engrossed in the work, there is no way I can feel isolated.

Sometimes when we bury ourselves in our work, we can feel burnt out. And if you're on a team where everyone is very engrossed in their work and you're the only one feeling burnt out, perhaps you may feel isolated. Loneliness in turn fuels burnout creating a vicious cycle. Burnout can contribute to a reduced sense of accomplishment and loss of personal identity. This is further exacerbated when we lack good relationships at work to keep us grounded. It’s important to find our purpose again and make sure it aligns with our work to avoid feeling isolated and burnout.


Myth #2: Social isolation and loneliness have no effect on employee engagement.

Feeling lonely and isolated at work has huge implications on an employee’s level of engagement. If someone feels isolated, they’re more likely to pull back and disengage. 

Gallup's latest State of the Global Workplace report found that global employee engagement had stalled and employee well-being, which had been steadily increasing for years, has declined since 2023. In fact, Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy $8.9 trillion USD, or 9% of global GDP! This shows just how important employee engagement is to the success of an organization. 

We are also experiencing a loneliness epidemic. 20% of the world's employees experience a lot of loneliness, and younger employees in particular have not been thriving as they used to. 


This is where managers come in. When managers are engaged, their employees are more likely to be engaged! It is like the domino effect. Managers can drive engagement through goal setting, providing regular, meaningful feedback and taking accountability.


Myth #3: Even if I am lonely, there is nothing to be done about it.

You do not have to suffer alone! We all have agency and a choice on how to confront our loneliness. Is there an ALLY at work? Somebody you can confide in and feel comfortable being your true self with. Invest time in getting to know colleagues and seeking them out. Oftentimes, it is when we lack the energy to create new connections that we have to expend greater effort to combat loneliness. 


Maybe the outlet is outside of work. Look into support groups and activities you enjoy. Reconnect with friends and family. When you find things that you enjoy, you will feel engaged and less lonely. You can also volunteer to participate in your community. Giving our time to those less fortunate will oftentimes help recenter us and help us focus on social issues bigger than our own.


Myth #4: If I have a personalized self-care routine, I have good social wellness.

Due to our exposure to social media, we think that adding more to our self-care routine will help with stress and social wellness but that’s not always the case.


Social wellness relates to having a sense of connectedness and belonging with others. It is a separate part of our overall well-being and must be nurtured individually. Doing other parts of your self-care routine like taking a long, hot bath, reading books, or taking walks, will not be able to fill up your need for social connection.


Myth #5: I am a high performer; I can’t possibly feel lonely.

High performers also feel lonely and oftentimes it’s due to the stress and pressure they face. They may struggle to find a group of people where they belong. Success and achievement do not provide the same level of happiness that comes from social connections with peers. And when you are entrenched in the "hustle & grind" culture, you miss the chance to slow down and look around you at all the people you can connect with. 


Increasing social wellness in your organization requires careful and intentional planning. You can break it down into categories: organizational, interpersonal, and individual strategies. This can create a top-down approach, starting at the leadership and structural level, and bringing it down to the employee level. 


DEIB should also be approached in a similar way. We need buy-in from the top to be able to cascade it throughout the rest of the organization.



We are social creatures so we’ve always needed social wellness…which makes one wonder… Has Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging also always been around? If these two are tied together, then perhaps we all need DEIB in our personal and professional lives so we can be well-rounded individuals with broad perspectives.



My new LinkedIn Learning course to “Overcome Managerial Bias in Performance Management” is now LIVE! I have made the access link for FREE for you!

In this course, I teach you the types of bias that can impact performance management—and how to identify and overcome managerial bias. You will learn about the key performance management practices that mitigate bias, the role of diversity and inclusion in performance management, and tools and technologies for bias mitigation. 

Please be sure to check it out and provide feedback!


JULY OBSERVANCES:


  • Social Wellness Month: Social Wellness Month can be an opportunity for individuals to prioritize their social wellness, which is important for overall well-being, through healthy relationships and strong social networks and support systems. Break out of your fixed routine and vow to meet new people. Social relationships have a lasting impact on physical health!

  • French American Heritage Month: The month of July is designated as National French-American Heritage Month in the United States to recognize and celebrate the important contributions made to the U.S. by Americans of French descent. 

  • July 1 - Canada Day: The national day of Canada. A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of Canadian Confederation which occurred on July 1, 1867.

  • July 1 - Caribbean Community Day: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) consists of 20 states throughout the Caribbean, of which 15 are member states and 5 associate members. The day was chosen to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established CARICOM on July 4, 1973. The day is celebrated with parades, pageants, and campaigns to educate people about CARICOM.

  • July 4 - Independence Day: This federal holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Americans come together on July 4 to celebrate the nation’s birthday and Independence Day.

  • July 6-7 - Hijri New Years: The Islamic New Year, also called the Hijri New Year, is the day that marks the beginning of a new lunar Hijri year, and is the day on which the year count is incremented. The first day of the Islamic year is observed by most Muslims on the first day of the month of Muharram. 

  • July 7 - World Chocolate Day: This is an annual celebration of chocolate, occurring globally on July 7, which some suggest to be the anniversary of the introduction of chocolate to Europe in 1550. 

  • July 9 - Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: The wage gap for Black women compared to non-Hispanic White men is $.69 cents for full time, year-round workers and $.66 cents for all workers (including part time). 

  • July 9 - The Martyrdom of the Bab: This is a commemoration of the martyrdom of one of the founders of the Bahai religion, which began in Iran in the year 1844. On this day, the Bahai people recount the execution of the Bab who was charged with the crime of apostasy in the year 1850 in the Persian Empire and then imprisoned along with his followers.

  • July 11 - World Population Day: World Population Day is an annual event, observed on July 11 every year, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. 

  • July 14 - International Nonbinary People’s Day: This day is aimed at raising awareness and organizing around the issues faced by non-binary people around the world. Every day, non-binary persons demonstrate that knowing one’s self and identity is a tremendous tool that no one can take away. There’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure complete protection and rights for our non-binary folks, but we must also take time to celebrate them.

  • July 14 - Bastille Day: This is the annual international celebration of French freedom from tyranny. 

  • July 16-17 - Ashura: This is a holy day for Muslims all over the world, observed on the 9th and 10th day of Muharram, according to the Islamic calendar. The day holds great religious and historical significance for Muslims.

  • July 18 - Nelson Mandela International Day: Nelson Mandela is  an iconic figure who triumphed over South Africa’s apartheid regime. He was a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, and an international peacemaker. And he was the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. Nelson Mandela’s birthday — Nelson Mandela International Day - celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact.

  • July 20 - Moon Landing Anniversary (Apollo 11, 1969): On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon.

  • July 21 - Asalha Puja Day: Asalha Puja falls on the sixth lunar month and commemorates Buddha’s first sermon after enlightenment. The festival offers a chance for Buddhists to reflect on the sermon’s 4 Noble Truths: 1) there is suffering; 2) suffering is caused by attachment; 3) there is a plane beyond attachment; and 4) the way to that plane is the Noble Eightfold Path. 

  • July 22 - World Brain Day: This is one of the most important annual celebrations in the world, as it helps raise awareness on an increasingly significant health issue, especially in our modern age. Brain health can refer to many prevention methods designed to help preserve both mental health and brain neurological health. As people have become increasingly more vulnerable to neurological issues, raising awareness of the issue is as important.

  • July 24 - International Self-Care Day: This day stresses the importance of self-care as the cornerstone of wellness. On this day, individuals throughout the world are encouraged to make self-care a part of their everyday routines and turn it into a priority. It is a milestone, and an opportunity to raise further awareness of the benefits of effective self-management of health.

  • July 25 - National Intern Day: Interns have always been an integral part of the American workforce. Interns are often trusted with responsibilities — essentially learning the ropes of the business. Along with a source of income, an internship is a great way to learn more about the industry that one might be interested in. A good internship may also be a great stepping stone to a fulfilling career. 

  • July 26 - National Disability Independence Day: This day commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disability Act (A.D.A.) in 1990. This Civil Rights law criminalizes any kind of discrimination against individuals with disabilities and assures them full participation in the community, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. The Americans with Disability Act covers the following areas: Public Accommodation, Employment, Transportation, and State & Local Government Services. A.D.A. is a life-changing act for many people. Today, 1 in 4 Americans with a disability can access and participate better in their workplaces and general communities.

  • July 30 - International Day Of Friendship: This day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly (U.N.). On July 30, we step back and get thankful for these relationships worldwide, as they promote and encourage peace, happiness, and unity. The U.N. encourages governments, community groups, and other organizations to coordinate activities and events that celebrate the friendships that we keep close to us. Many events focus on reconciliation, bridging understanding and consensus, and finding comfort in those friendships that feel like home. 


Until next month... Be well and stay safe & healthy!

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