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Building social support

Everyone you associate with is part of your social network. That may include family members, close friends, coworkers, team mates, and acquaintances. Some of these people you may interact with regularly. Others you may not see or speak with for long stretches of time. No matter their relationship to you, they may play a part in keeping you healthy.

Ongoing research shows the power of social support. People who are socially connected tend to live longer. They also may fare better after an illness. What might be behind this connection? It may be related to how your body handles stress. Such chronic strain has been linked to many health ills, including heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, headaches, chronic pain, and obesity. Surrounding yourself with caring people may act as a buffer against stress.

Like any healthy habit, building a strong social network takes time and commitment. You need to stay in touch with friends and family. First decide on who you want in your life. Avoid people who make you feel bad about yourself or who don’t support you. You should also stay away from those who tempt you to take up bad or unhealthy habits.