People forge and maintain strong relationships with others to improve their well-being. Indeed, establishing a strong relationship is the initial step towards the creation of social networks consisting of compassionate and caring people that are essential for promoting health directly and indirectly. Social support is frequently described as the soothing and caring impact of close friends and family members. Moreover, it takes a broad array of forms, including advice and guidance, as well as encouraging distraught individuals. Additionally, social support is utilized to recognize the achievements and contributions of a person. Social support indirectly influences people’s behaviors that are essential in preventing chronic diseases and affects the body’s functioning to help people cope with stress.
Social support indirectly influences health and wellbeing by influencing choices and behaviors. Participation in social groups influences the behaviors of people (Southwick, Sippel, Krystal, Charney, Mayes, and Pietrzak 77). As such, these groups can either encourage or discourage healthy diets, physical exercise, drinking, and abuse of illegal substances, among other behaviors that influence health. For example, as De Choudhury and Kıcıman note, social groups can periodically wield negative influences when peer pressure prompts adolescents to engage in risky behaviors. Nevertheless, these adolescents can seek help from social groups, such as support groups. Adolescents are impressionable; thus, they need positive reinforcement from parents and responsible friends to avoid risky behaviors. Other groups also need social support to deal with the health issues they face.
Social support directly influences health outcomes by helping people cope with stress resulting from engaging in complex and mentally demanding activities. De Choudhury and Kıcıman opine that stress is linked to broad spectra of health consequences that can potentially weaken a body’s immunity to set the stage for developing chronic diseases. As a result, it is imperative to control stress to promote health. A study conducted on social support among cancer patients showed that partners of cancer patients who have high social support levels show better immune functioning compared to those accessing lower social support (Southwick et al. 78). According to the study, familial support helps patients with chronic diseases because it encourages them to take the right steps to promote their health. Indeed, the research’s conclusion implies that familiar backing is a form of psychological therapy that helps people reduce stress. The other example is the effect of stress on learners performing mathematic calculations. In a study, Allen, Blascovich, and Mendes, who are researchers, observed that learners made fewer errors in the presence of close friends when performing math calculations compared to when they completed the activity in the absence of friends. More errors were made by learners who performed math calculations in the absence of friends because of stress resulting from fear of failing. The fewer errors among students who performed the activity in the presence of family indicate that being surrounded by caring and supportive people can equip one to manage stress.
Social support is a peer pressure that influences physical and mental health and wellbeing. Indeed, the absence of social support may disadvantage adolescents and adults alike in varied ways. Foremost, social support helps adults living with chronic disease as it is beneficial in addressing the physiological and psychological needs occasioned by stress. Additionally, social support encourages adolescents to engage inappropriate behaviors that improve health and wellness. Therefore, it is imperative for one to build social support networks.
Allen, Karen, Jim, Blascovich, and Wendy, Mendes. “Cardiovascular Reactivity and the Presence of Pets, Friends, and Spouses: The Truth about Cats and Dogs”. Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 64, 2002, pp. 727–739.
De Choudhury, Munmun, and Emre Kıcıman. “The Language of Social Support in Social Media and its Effect on Suicidal Ideation Risk.” Proceedings of the … International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media vol. 2017, 2017, pp. 32-41.
Southwick, Steven, Lauren, Sippel, John, Krystal, Dennis, Charney, Linda, Mayes, and Robb, Pietrzak. “Why Are Some Individuals More Resilient Than Others: The Role Of Social Support.” World Psychiatry, vol. 15, no. 1, 2016, pp. 77-79.