by Casey Ryan, C’95
As Jordana Horn Gordon, Nicole Maloy and I have shared before, Penn has launched an initiative called Wellness at Penn.
This program affirms wellness as a core priority and necessary driver of life on campus. It offers opportunities to reflect and engage on issues of wellness, stress, mental health, resilience, happiness, personal and academic goals, and the meaning of success. And it defines wellness as an ongoing holistic process with multiple dimensions.
As alumni, we are still members of the Penn community where we live in Philadelphia or Perth and everywhere in between. Jordana, Nicole and I are encouraging you, our fellow classmates, in the ramp-up year to our 25th reunion to take some time to #BeWellPenn95 and work on some of the wellness dimensions.
While the three of us have picked one each of the eight tenets, we encourage you to follow us for tips about improving your mental/emotional, physical and social wellness as well as adding any pillars to your wellness routine.
As the same proclaimed social butterfly, I am planning to provide ideas and tips for improving one’s social wellness.
First, what is social wellness?
Social Wellness refers to one’s ability to interact with people around them. It involves using good communications skills, having meaningful relationships, respecting yourself and others, and creating a support system that includes family members and friends.
In this particular blog article, I am not going to overwhelm you with several tips; I will give you just one meaningful one as we are preparing for our reunion in 2020.
Catch up with an old friend from Penn.
We live in a busy world and some of us have jobs that take us to the far-flung corners of the earth and others of us have responsibilities that require our attention from when the alarm goes off to when our heads hit pillows. We do have technological escapes like Facebook and Instagram that do give us a tenuous feeling of connectedness. In the meantime, let’s try to improve our in-person relationships. Evaluate your core network. If you have Penn peers in that group, congrats! If not, think about a classmate whom you’d like to hear from. Either way, make some time to connect.
The interaction doesn’t have to be long. Now, I’m a dyed in the wool extrovert and I can spend hours with a friend moving among busy locales – hopping from coffee to lunch to a happy hour – chatting all the time. Not everyone has the inclination to do that or the time. So the opposite social appointment would be to commit to a fifteen-minute chat on the phone to check in and catch up.
Here are a few rules of thumb. Regardless of where you fall on the extrovert-introvert spectrum, know your limitations and mutually set expectations. Before making a commitment, be sure that you can realistically meet that expectation, taking into account everything from travel time and prior commitments to health and self-care.
Start with a fifteen-minute call with Penn friend. Send him or her an e-mail (feel free to look up your friend on Quakernet, https://quakernet.alumni.upenn.edu), or a Facebook message. Make arrangements to chat within ten days of your contact. Commit to the call. If you feel comfortable, post on our Reunion Facebook that you caught up with an old friend afterward and share your experience.
Looking toward the future, I know that a lot of social wellness activities can be tied into the other pillars of wellness, for example, finding a workout partner combines social with physical, while joining a book club can combinate social with mental/emotional. Don’t be surprised if future tips combine more than one tenet.
Like all of the wellnesses, cultivating social wellness is an ongoing process that requires attention throughout our entire life. So, we’re here for you and feel free to interact with the class page on Facebook, as well as you can connect with me personally on Instagram and Twitter at @IrishWombat.
Casey Ryan, C’95