The Secret of Social Wellness

A few years ago I joined a site called HealthMonth.com, a company founded by a health-minded web developer in Seattle, Buster Benson. In fact, our entire office joined the site, all of us sharing and tracking our health goals together.

The rise of health tech and health tracking in products like FitBit and Nike+ proves a long known fact: when your friends are active, you are more active. Or, at least, when you see that Susie from the Surgical Unit is jogging a lot, something deep inside you tells you that you, too, must jog. 

On Health Month, I was surprised at the amount of goals I could add for myself, and went through adding concrete physical goals, such as ‘Run 10 minutes a day’. In addition to the exercise goals, there were diet goals such as “drink 10 glasses of water a day’. 

And on, and on, and so forth.

Yet, I was surprised when I came across a category of goals tucked at the bottom of my goal page. Labeled “Social Wellness” I clicked on this category and opened a world of new goals.

One of the goals under this category: "go on a friend date". I found myself laughing a bit. Who needs to make spending time with friends into a personal health goal? That’s just life! Friend dates happen all the time, right?

But then I took an honest look at my past week. My past two weeks. My past month. Had I spent any time with my friends, outside of work?

I realized slowly that I hadn’t called up a friend in the past 35 days, nor even went out for coffee with someone close to me. Though I’d spent time with my significant other and our dog, as well as my parents and immediate family, I hadn’t actually had a good sit-down-and-chat-about-nothing session with anyone for over 35 days.

I took a deep breath and signed up for the Health Month challenge to have one friend date per week. At least once per week, I would see one of my friends. This had been digitally decreed as soon as I signed up to meet this goal.

The website's goals and gentle reminders changed the way I thought about relationships. I thought about who I could meet up with throughout the week, and which of my friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Also, I found myself thinking about the immense energy I was pouring into my career. It was worth it, but was I alienating my friends at the same time? I’d say the answer was yes, in my case. 

I didn’t want to become a person who lives in the same town as his/her friends, but doesn’t have any time to hang out. So, I made a change, I started meeting up with friends more often. It was a little hard; just like drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day. That said though, it's been great!

With the economy being non-ideal lately, it’s no wonder that most nurses stay focused on their career, and the advancement thereof. In the midst of managing daily life and sending a resume to that new hospital on the horizon, don't forget about one of the greatest mood-boosting, healthy-habit resources out there: friends.