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Can Social Media Positively Impact Wellness?

By Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @DonnaRogersHR (Immediate Past President Illinois SHRM)

Yes! Yes it can! This article details how it does, and will continue, to motivate my overall wellness.  First, I think it is fair to say that in my mind, wellness is not limited to the various dictionary definitions regarding physical health.  For example: Encarta Dictionary defines wellness as “physical well-being, especially when maintained or achieved through good diet and regular exercise”.  I am looking at wellness as good positive health but from an overall standpoint.  My personal experience is that social media can affect physical, mental, personal, professional, and the relational wellness of an individual.

Let’s put physical aside for a moment and start with MENTAL.  Mentally I feel like both my confidence level and my knowledge base has grown exponentially since I began being more and more active on social media.  I know my website is not considered social media but I started that in 2005 in my first real venture out on the internet, both as an individual and a professional.  With the minimal help of our web site host and my husband, I basically designed my first website with little or no training.  It was not as interactive as my current website but it was a start and since then I have continued to grow mentally, by learning, not just a website software program but several different social media platforms such as Facebook, Linked In, Twitter.  I am not afraid to try new things but at the rate new sites are appearing, I barely have time to keep up.  Currently, I am trying to find time to learn Pinterest.

PERSONALLY, I mentioned confidence above which has improved tremendously primarily because of relationships I have built online with fellow HR professionals as well as rekindling old flames with friends from the near to distant past.  I don’t mean old boyfriends like so many stories you hear about marriages breaking up because someone found their old boyfriend on Facebook.  However, I do mean old friends, co-workers, and now that FB is no longer only for personal use, past co-workers, all of whom you get to know on a more intimate basis.  For example, I have friends I have known for a few years on social media;  I had no idea we graduated from the same school, have kids the same age, or are interested in the same things.  I am certain that without social media, the opportunity to discuss such intimate details about one’s life would ever happen.  However, the relationship is more sincere; more personal when you first ask about the person’s mother and how she is doing before getting into work details.  People are people and social media helps us to treat each other as such and less as numbers or a paycheck or something else less intimate.

As I mentioned above these days there are no walls when it comes to social media.  I feel comfortable telling a peer about my son’s baseball game and vice versa.  So PROFESSIONALLY, I feel like I have grown to learn that while there are boundaries, they don’t have to be as tight as they once where and that has and can actually be a good thing.  I have also, learned so much about my field and what is available or still to be learned in greater detail that I can literally write for days.  So, HR Blog Talk Radio, Ripple, Hash Tags, and Online Performance Review Software are just a few examples of what I have learned through social media.  I continue to learn more through the relationships I have built and those that I meet virtually.

RELATIONALLY, I feel sometimes my head could explode trying to keep up which is also part of my overextended work and volunteer responsibilities.  I admit, I am a workaholic but realistically, you can really only manage around 150 relationships at one time.  Although  I have many people I follow, connect with, friend, etc., I can never be all things to all people all the time.  When one relationship falls off my radar for the moment, another pops on and it’s not personal, it’s just life.  Eventually, they will fall back on my radar for one reason or another and all will be good.  I found this to be so with old friends, co-workers, and even family members I have not talked to, met, or seen in years (virtually or in person).  Life is a journey and social media can impact all these things positively so very very much if you trust yourself to try it and be cautious of those you don’t and should not trust online.  Aside from the technical aspects you may even like it.

Finally, I’d like to address the physical aspect of social media on my life.  I have seen many tweets that are inspirational, educational, and just simply a good reminder of why physical health is so important on twitter and Facebook.  I know the most important thing in my life is my family, friends, and “peeps”!  Truly, it’s about relationships.  If you’re not in good physical health, it’s difficult to be in good mental and spiritual health to work on those relationships.  I know, I have been there and I don’t want to go there again.  So with this post, I vow to show you just how much social media can have a positive impact on physical health over the next year or so.  My 2012 goal was wellness for all those things I mentioned throughout this post.

So every time it’s my turn to write a blog, I plan to update you on all the things I have learned (much more specifically than this introduction) on social media since the last post.  How you ask?  I plan to listen to all, yes all, the drive thru HR and HR Happy Hour shows while walking my way to wellness.  I know there are over 100 shows each, so that is many many hours on the treadmill or walking outside to keep up and share with you.  I have been inspired by one of the show hosts Bryan Wempen  who has recently taken up running and seems to be doing very well at it.  Maybe someday I will be chasing him instead of just listening to him and all his guests.  Ready or not, here I go…

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