Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Did You Know Socialization Strengthens Nurse Well-Being? Learn more about the POWER of Camaraderie
You know that emotion you get after an enjoyable, productive, or heart-warming conversation? Maybe it’s a feeling of satisfaction, contentedness, or joy. However you describe it, those emotions happen when we feel a connection to someone. And there’s no denying the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of social connectedness.
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Weakened immune system
- Anxiety and depression
- Cognitive decline
Some researchers describe loneliness as a fertilizer for disease. It accelerates and promotes the growth of cancer cells, the buildup of plaque in arteries, and overall wear and tear of the body. Contrary to this, having a sense of purpose from connection boosts the health of your immune cells and strengthens your body.
As nurses, camaraderie and connectedness are crucial for wellness. It’s not just being around other people that matters. What matters is having opportunities to engage in meaningful, productive activities with other people who we enjoy spending time with. That’s what creates the sense of connection.
9 Ideas to Help Foster and Grow Your Social Connections
Think about the people in your life. You might connect with some of them better than others. Or maybe you haven’t been able to connect with certain individuals as often as you’d like because of the pandemic. Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your existing relationships and form new ones. By fostering your social connections, you can reap the health rewards that come from camaraderie.
- Identify your healthy relationships and your not-so-healthy ones: Not all friendships are good for your health. Research shows that friends who constantly talk about their own problems can increase your stress levels. Think about which people lighten your burdens, lift your mood, and make you feel happy instead of draining you. These are the types of relationships you want to spend more time fostering.
- Schedule regular “hang outs” with loved ones: It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day routine and go weeks or months without seeing the people you cherish. But if you prioritize spending time with loved ones the same way you prioritize getting enough sleep or drinking enough water, your connections flourish. Schedule a set day/time every so often to get together with the people who “fill your tank.”
- See what your workplace or neighborhood offers: Does your employer offer opportunities to engage with coworkers outside of the work environment? Maybe it’s an employee happy hour, employee picnic, or an ice cream social. Going beyond your employer, consider events like neighborhood barbeques, book clubs, or other hang outs. There might be opportunities to socialize right under your nose.
- Start or join a club: Whether it’s in a professional or personal environment, having a group of like-minded people to share a hobby with is fulfilling. There are many types of clubs or classes you can create or join such as book clubs, cooking classes, golf or bowling leagues, Bible studies, or even music classes. Grab a group of friends and attend a club or class that allows you to meet regularly and share your interests.
- Host a game or trivia night: Adding some friendly competition is the perfect way to bond with people around you. When you play games, you often form teams, and teammates must work together to achieve victory. This is a fun, surefire way to feel connected to the people around you.
- Exercise together: Physical activity is crucial for health and wellness, but it’s so much more fun with a friend. There’s something humbling about completing a tough, sweat-inducing workout with other people. Instead of isolating and exercising alone, attend a group class or visit a local gym where there are other people you know. Turn physical activity into an opportunity to socialize and connect.
- Put away your phone: When you spend time with people, are you constantly checking your phone? Maybe you multitask by browsing social media or responding to text messages during in-person conversations. Instead, keep your phone in your bag or pocket and bring your full attention to the person you’re talking to. Without distractions, you’re more likely to have a thoughtful, productive conversation that makes you feel fulfilled.
- Enjoy a meal together: Food has a way of bringing people together. We all have to eat, so use this time to form and grow connections with the people who bring you joy. Whether you go to a restaurant, have a picnic, or host a meal at your home — make it a perfect combination of a delicious (and nutritious) meal and good conversation.
- Be supportive, happy, and encouraging: Friendship is a two-way street. It turns out that being a good friend to others benefits your health, too. So, while you want to surround yourself with cheerful, positive people, you should also try to be that type of person to others. Beneficial friendships work both ways.
The people around you play a huge role in your wellness. Your connections have the power to strengthen your health, but connection doesn’t always come easy. If you’re struggling to feel a sense of camaraderie with those around you or you can’t connect with loved ones, try Happy. This toll-free service provided by the Well-Being Initiative gives you access to compassionate listeners anytime you need.
How do you prioritize your relationships and connecting with others? We’d love to hear. Share with us in our discussion.
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As a bedside nurse on a bustling medical-surgical unit, prioritizing relationships and fostering connections with patients is the essence of my daily work. Each day, I strive to create a compassionate and caring environment that extends beyond medical treatments.
I prioritize relationships by taking the time to listen to my patients' stories, fears, and hopes. This not only helps me provide better care but also builds trust and comfort. I believe in the healing power of a reassuring smile, a comforting touch, and a kind word.
Moreover, I understand the significance of connecting with my colleagues. Teamwork is the backbone of our unit, and effective communication and collaboration are vital. Sharing knowledge, supporting one another during challenging shifts, and celebrating our victories as a team strengthen our bonds.
In the midst of a demanding healthcare environment, I find fulfillment in knowing that my dedication to these connections not only improves patient outcomes but also contributes to a more positive and supportive workplace for my colleagues.