Positive social support (family or friends) plays a significant role in one’s ability to make healthier choices. Social support means being able to access people that a person can rely upon if needed. The support of family and friends during a crisis has long been seen to have a positive emotional effect on people. However, this support also has a physical benefit as well.
When I think about my support system, my boyfriend is number one at the moment. He always tries to understand my point of view and would sometimes give different rationales, but he supports me 100% in all things that I do. In my studies, my work, health and future dreams. I am a pretty independent woman, and I always say and feel that I do not need anyone to tell me what I can and can’t do, but having him supporting me in my studies, for example, has been a great benefit. My work is done on time, and he pushes me to go the extra mile with research. He makes me see the bigger picture of knowledge is power.
When I think about how he supports me in my health and exercise, I sometimes wonder how he can influence me in such a positive way. We try to eat healthily and establish a daily routine, which makes things easier to do. And the day I want to eat chocolate cake for breakfast, he does it with me. Simple things like telling me I’m beautiful every day and how lucky he is to have me is not just to get him out of trouble if he doesn’t pick up his clothes, but it gives me a confidence boost to take on the world with a pimple here or a love handle there that only I can notice.
My parents and friends are next on the support line. Traveling the world and living as an expat in another country other than your own, can get quite frustrating and lonely. Simple messages, great use of technology and quick coffees, can do the world’s difference. Without my parent’s daily support of following my dreams and traveling the world, I would never have taken the first step into the unknown.
Along the way, I make many friends. Some stay some go. In line with what I do, our friendships grow fast, and we are highly connected for the year or two we live in the same town. We are all always in the same boat – we live far from home, but do not want to dwell on the negative, but rather look at the positives. Without my “girlfriends,” living as an expat would be even more challenging and very lonely. We cry, laugh and suffer together and what is a better way to build great friendships?
If I did not have the support from the beginning, I do not think that I would not be able to exist. Life goes on. But if I would have to lose the support system NOW, it would have a profound impact om my social, emotional and physical life.
Plenty of research has been done on social support and the implications of having too little, and it looks pretty grim. Studies have shown that:
- Social support is related to psychological well-being, meaning that the more a person feels he has friends and family who are there for him, the less likely he is to feel depressed and anxious (Turner, 1981).
- Elevated levels of social support predict more job satisfaction and longer job tenure than low levels of social support (Harris, Winskowski, & Engdahl, 2007).
- Older adults with a chronic illness who had medium levels of social support had 41% less chance of death than those with low levels of social support, and high levels of social support resulted in a 55% lower chance of death (Zhang, Norris, Gregg, & Beckles, 2007).
There are countless other publications on the important roles both friends and family can play in our lives, and the general consensus is that social support is very vital for life success. I truly hope the for every person in this world, there is someone who is your support.
Work Cited: The Importance of Support