When we talk about self-care, we often think of it as an individual practice; as something we do on our own to combat the burnout that day-to-day life brings. But social self-care is just as important.
But what is social self-care, exactly? It's pretty much what it sounds like: Self-care, but for your social life. While this does mean making sure you’re giving your relationships the attention they deserve and putting in the work to form new bonds, it also means establishing healthy boundaries around your social life so you don’t end up overextending yourself.
As we enter the third year of the pandemic, many of us are feeling a little lost from a social perspective. While life feels somewhat “normal” again, with social distancing in mind, we did everything we could to avoid seeing our friends in person for so long. So as we come up for air, it’s hard to know exactly how to approach our social lives.
That’s where social self-care tips come in. Here are five of them.
This seems pretty simple, right? But it can be easy to let the days and weeks pass without making plans to actually see our friends, especially because so many of us got out of the habit of doing that during the COVID-19 pandemic. So take out your phone and text or call a few friends asking when you can see them. And if you don't feel comfortable with indoor gatherings, suggest a walk outside or a virtual hangout.
Engage in traditional acts of self-care with your friends
To take your social self-care journey to the next level, ask yourself this: What are your favorite self-care activities, and which ones can you do with your friends? Some ideas might include:
- Taking a walk
- Side-by-side journaling using the same prompt
- Taking a yoga or other type of exercise class together
- Going hiking
- Painting or draw together
- Having a “vision board” night
- Cooking a nourishing meal together
- Watching a great movie or show
- Playing a board game
Side-by-side journaling using the same prompt can be a great social self-care practice
Give a gift
You know how the saying goes: It feels better to give than receive. So give someone you love a gift! This gift can be a thing — for example, maybe the two of you popped into a store together the last time you hung out and your friend mentioned loving a specific candle — that would be a great gift that will let them know you’re thinking of them.
But gift-giving can also mean signing the two of you up for a fun class you can take together, or going over to your friends’ house to cook them dinner during a particularly stressful week.
Put in effort to make new friends
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your social life, feel free to skip this tip. But if you feel like you could use some new friendships in your life, there are plenty of ways to make friends as an adult. Go to a Meetup, try an app like BumbleBFF, or consider hosting a party where you ask everyone to bring a friend.
When practicing social self-care, put in effort to make new friends.
Make time for play
In our productivity-centered society, it’s easy to feel like we’re working even when we’re not “officially” working. Think rushing to a workout class, cooking dinner for your family, doing laundry, the list goes on. But one of the more abstract aspects of social self-care is carving out time for play. Of course, you have to define what “play” means to you, but it could mean participating in an intramural sport, playing a board game, visiting a museum, going shopping, or simply laughing over dinner with a friend. When we play, we tap into our social selves — and usually end up forming new bonds along the way.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of boundaries here at Silk + Sonder. And one of the most important social self-care tips of all is to make sure that when it comes to your personal relationships, you’re taking care of yourself, too. It’s not uncommon to have a friend who goes on and on about their problems without stopping to ask how you are, or to have a friend who demands more time than you have to spare. So set boundaries around your friendships, and stand firm in them — even if that means having an awkward conversation. And make sure you’re carving out time to engage in individual self-care acts that help restore you, too.What does the term “social self-care” mean to you? Let us know in the comments. And while you’re at it, bookmark these 50 powerful affirmations for self-love.