Interpersonal wellness refers to your daily interactions, the qualities of your relationships, and your satisfaction with time spent interacting with others. Our social supports are our natural “buffers” for stress. Through close, reciprocal and harmonious relationships or connection with a supportive community, we can feel seen and understood and develop a sense of belonging.
Interpersonal wellness also includes having people in our lives who bring us positive experiences, such as through quality time spent together or words or acts of appreciation. These kinds of relationships can make you feel good about yourself and lift up your feelings of self-worth.
Other parts of interpersonal wellness are internal, such as having the interpersonal skills to manage conflict with others in your life or finding the balance between solitary and social time.
Tips for Building Interpersonal Wellness
Communication is the thread that ties all relationships together. It's through communication that we give and receive information, become closer, and work through challenges. But for something so important to relationships (of every kind) and our interpersonal wellness, it can be confusing!
If communication feels like a challenge to you, know that you are not alone. "Communication issues" is a common reason couples seek counseling, friends fall out, and group projects struggle to come together. One reason this happens is our unique backgrounds and life lessons that shapes how we give and receive messages. What one person considers a confrontation, another considers leadership, and what one person considers friendly advice, another perceives as being "pushy."
The good news is, you don't need to be a mind-reader to communicate better. Often, better communication happens with simple intentions like showing respect, listening with undivided attention, and speaking in a way your message can best be heard. Other skills like using "I statements" (find out more about I statements in this Good Therapy article) and asking more "how, what, tell me more" questions vs. "why" questions can make a big difference in how a conversation goes. Experiment yourself with these statements: Why did you do that? vs. Can you tell me how this happened?, I feel lonely vs. You don't pay enough attention to me, Why did you do it this way? vs. Can you tell me more about what you did here? Big difference, right?
A few more communication tips to consider:
Explore these resources for using communication to improve your interpersonal wellness:
How Miscommunication Happens and How to Avoid It TED Talk by Katherine Hampsten
Why Do People Get Defensive (and What You Can Do About It) on Psychology Today
12 Ways to Improve Communication Skills Instantly video by Brainy Dose
Let your friends know that you appreciate them. From a simple thank you to an authentic compliment, a little appreciation goes a long way toward relationship health and happiness.
Explore these resources for cultivating more appreciation in your social life:
Remember to say, "Thank You." TED Talk by Laura Trice
Conflict doesn't need to end relationships. In fact, healing after conflict is an important positive friendship quality.
Explore these tools for healing after conflict:
The Art of Finding Common Ground TED Talk Playlist
Conflict Resolution Mistakes to Avoid on Very Well Mind
How to Handle Unresolved Conflict at Family Gatherings on Very Well Mind
Your well-being is the foundation of everything in your life. When you are happy, healthy, and thriving, your life and relationships reflect that. So, approach relationships with your fullest, happiest self. When you do, you'll find yourself communicating more clearly, setting healthy boundaries, showing appreciation more freely, and showing up as your truest self.
Do you have this double standard?
Take a step back and notice how you treat yourself. How does this compare to the way you treat others in your life? Many people discover that they live by a double standard, holding themselves to higher scrutiny and offering less care than they would for someone they care about. Remember that YOU are someone worth caring about. Make a point of respecting and loving yourself in whatever small way you can.
Tips for cultivating self-love and self-respect:
How to Stop Your Self-Hatred on Very Well Mind
Self-Compassion for Social Anxiety Disorder on Very Well Mind
Self-Compassion Makes Life More Manageable on Very Well Mind
Bonding happens through quality time and quality interactions. Whether you're cooking dinner with a roommate or staying up late on a group assignment, any shared activity can be an opportunity to bond when you focus on these two things.
The Secret to Quality Time
Quality time with the people in your life doesn't have to be fancy. The quality of your time spent together is determined more by your presence than the setting. If you are fully engaged, paying attention, asking questions, and listening, even the most mundane tasks can be bonding time.
The next time you're with someone you'd like to strengthen your relationship with, no matter what you're doing, make presence your priority. Do this through eye contact, body language, and engagement in the conversation.
The Secret to Quality Interactions
Take your quality time one step further with quality interactions. Expressing interests in someone's life, cultivating trust, showing respect, and enjoyment are all examples of positive friendship qualities. These qualities are so powerful that it only takes one good friend to make a big difference in your interpersonal wellness.
To practice quality interactions, use your time with others to get to know them on a deeper level. Ask the people in your life meaningful questions and share important things about yourself. Invite a friend or classmate along to something that matters to you and be open to exploring what interests them, too. These are the building blocks to close, supportive relationships.
And when you hit a bump in the road, view that as a chance to bond, too. Have you ever noticed how much closer you feel to someone after resolving a disagreement? That happens because repairing rifts in and resolving conflicts in relationships are also important friendship qualities and a big part of bonding.
It's also important to offer a supportive response when a friend comes to you in a hard time. Give a friend going through a hard time the space to be in pain while also holding an image of them as well and thriving in your own mind. Listen. Validate. Let them know that their perspective is understandable. When you have a question, approach it with genuine curiosity. If you want to help, give them an opportunity to tell you how you could help or ask them what they need.
Explore these resources on quality time and quality interactions:
How to Connect with Others TED Talk Playlist
The Art of Meaningful Conversation TED Talk Playlist
10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation TED Talk by Celeste Headlee
Online Resources for Your Interpersonal Wellness
Introvert, Dear Helping introverts thrive in an extravert world.
Loveisrespect.org Highly-trained advocates offer support, information and advocacy to young people who have questions or concerns about their dating relationships. Loveisrespect also provides information and support to concerned friends and family members, teachers, counselors, service providers and members of law enforcement. Free and confidential phone, live chat and texting services are available 24/7/365.
Chat at www.loveisrespect.org
Text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474
Quiet Revolution Unlocking the power of introverts for the benefit of us all.
Relationship Section on Psych Central Research-based tips and information for improving your relationships.
Relationships Section on Psychology Today Relationships advice by experts.
Sex & Relationships advice in Living Wild
Social Pro 200+ Free guides on charisma, friendship, romantic relationships, social skills, and mental well-being.
Social Wellness Toolkit by National Institutes of Health
Campus Resources for Building Interpersonal Wellness
Support and Skill-Building
Peer-to-peer mentorship and professional support for students with a history of being in foster care, at risk for homelessness, or lacking a support system.Learn more about Fostering Success
Immigrant Student Resource Center
Services include providing social support for enrolled students from immigrant and refugee backgrounds.Find out more about the Immigrant Student Resource Center
Cultural Clubs and Organizations
A diverse range of clubs and organizations that provide academic, cultural, and personal support, as well as serve an advocacy role.View the UA cultural centers and clubs.
The Blue Chip Leadership Experience helps you engage on campus, connect with like-minded Wildcats, and help you develop as leaders.Find out more about Blue Chip
Common Ground Alliance
Common Ground Alliance helps students to increase their multicultural awareness and their ability to address social justice inequalities through the arts. Internship opportunities are also available.Find out more about Common Ground Alliance
UA Global Ambassador Program
Global Ambassadors serve as leaders of the fall and spring International Orientation Program, coordinators of the Buddy Program and advocates of study abroad.Find out more about UA Global Ambassador Program
Mindful Ambassadors is a group of student volunteers who receive ongoing training in select mindful practices and how to present these practices. Ambassadors go to various venues on campus to present brief Mindful Moments – classrooms, residences halls, sorority and fraternity houses, campus clubs and organizations, and other campus programs, during which they are invited to present.Get Involved with Mindful Ambassadors
Get Involved and Have Fun
Cats After Dark
Cats After Dark Provides free, late-night events on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights for on-campus students. Events include trivia nights, free movie screenings, mock-tail bars, moonlight hikes, and more!Find out more about Cats After Dark
Student Union Games Room
The Student Union Games Room offers pool tables, ping pong tables, a X-Box One, PS4, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, gaming PCs, foosball, air hockey, darts, board games, and card games. All you need to play is a CatCard or picture ID, fees may apply.Find out more about the Games Room
Located in the Student Union Memorial Center, Main Level, Food Court. Grab a bite to eat and enjoy the most affordable movies in town! Also offers a recurring Cats After Dark Series - FREE admission and FREE small popcorn for CatCard holders. $4.00 admission for non-CatCard holders.Find out more about the Gallagher Theater
Find Your People
There are over 600 recognized clubs, organizations, and student centers on campus. Use these resources to find your people:
Get Active with Others
International Student Services
Through advising and programs, International Student Services provides immigration, academic, and personal support, as well as opportunities for friendship and leadership. We are your advocates, always ensuring that you are understood, supported and that your voice is heard. In addition to advising and immigration information, International Student Services offers programs like:
Our Favorite Sites and Resources for Wellness
Good Good Good A newspaper, newsletter, and podcast about the good news in the world.
Greatist Covers the health and wellness stuff that matters — plus anything else that's cool, important, or maybe even life-changing.
Help Guide Guides to improve your mental health and wellness.
Living Wild source for wellness tips published by the Health Promotion and Preventive Services department at UA Campus Health Service.
Mindful A nonprofit dedicated to inspiring, guiding, and connecting anyone who wants to explore mindfulness—to enjoy better health, more caring relationships, and a compassionate society. Resources include articles, videos, and online courses on mindfulness.
Take Charge of Your Well-Being in 2020 Tips and resources by UA Campus Health Service Health Promotion and Preventive Services
The Minimalists Podcast, books, and films that focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more creativity, more experiences, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom.
My Wellness Coach App by the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
Very Well Fit Library of more than 6,000 pieces of content, created and refined over the past 20+ years, that has been written by more than 100 healthcare professionals and industry experts including experienced dietitians, nutritionists, and personal trainers, and then vetted by board-certified physicians.
Very Well Health Award-winning library of more than 18,000 pieces of content, written by more than 100 healthcare professionals and industry experts including experienced doctors, nurses, and patient advocates, and is vetted by our panel of board-certified physicians.
Very Well Mind Online library created and refined over the past 20+ years, has been written by more than 100 healthcare professionals and industry experts including experienced doctors, therapists, and social workers, and then vetted by board-certified physicians.
Well Wellness articles by the New York Times.
Well and Good Articles, talks, and workouts about living a well life, inside and out.
Whole Life Challenge Blog Articles on improving health, happiness, and overall connectedness.