As we celebrate our nation’s diverse culture and heritage this month, we are reminded of the continuous discussions South Africans have around issues of diversity, equity and inclusiveness. Unbeknown to some, social and cultural wellness form part of the wellbeing framework which translates theory into positive practices that build up flourishing communities.
Social wellness refers to being able to develop and nurture healthy relationships with the people around you. This means having positive relationships based on mutual trust, respect, and understanding. It also means feeling confident when alone or with others. Social wellness is necessary for overall health; people with good social connections tend to be healthier and live longer than those who do not. Furthermore, they tend to be less susceptible to illness, can manage stress more effectively, and have higher self-esteem than those who are more isolated.
Culturally well people are aware of their own cultural background, as well as the diversity and richness present in other cultural backgrounds. Cultural wellness implies supporting diversity through knowledge, acceptance and understanding. It means building positive relationships and interacting respectfully with people of different races and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation, disabilities, gender, abilities and religious or political beliefs as well as other ideologies.
Strategies to enhance social and cultural wellness
Develop healthy relationships and manage challenging ones
- Be willing to meet new people and make new friends.
- Look for new experiences as unfamiliar situations can be opportunities for personal growth and meeting interesting people.
- When conflict arises, think of yourself in the other person’s situation before defending your position.
- Be aware of your feelings and actions and how your perspective contributes to situations before putting the blame on someone else.
As social beings, our interactions with one another are important as we rely on cooperation to survive and thrive. This is as a result of regular and positive contact with friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, special interest groups and so on.
Develop intercultural skills
- Respect the cultural identities of others.
- Challenge your assumptions and discomfort around the unknown.
- Be aware of how your individual culture influences how you perceive others.
- Connect with other cultural or social groups that can help you in being more culturally aware.
Silindokuhle is an Industrial/Organisational Psychologist registered with the HPCSA. She holds a Master’s degree from UKZN and runs an independent practice specialising in psychological assessments, training and wellbeing.