One of the strongest factors supporting both physical and mental health is social support. Social support is the connection that you make with friends, family, or peers, either formally or informally. People need others the way plants need roots in soil. We are social beings by nature. Making a connection with another is a way of tapping into a deep evolutionary sense of our human need for community.
The pandemic this year has caused disruptions in many of our usual and natural social networks. But our need for connection hasn’t diminished. While we are socially distancing, we still need the intellectual stimulation and emotional support that we get from social connections, but we may have to explore new ways to make those contacts.
It doesn’t take much to reap the benefits of social connection. Brief personal conversations with work mates, a phone call with an old friend, having coffee with a neighbor at a safe social distance, or turning off the television and sharing a meal with a family member who is in your bubble, can all be surprisingly helpful in kindling our sense of well-being and resilience. Web support helps too. Taking a risk and reaching out on EX, rather than just reading, can take the experience of support to another level.
This past year has been difficult, which makes being considerate of your self-care even more important. Take a few minutes to plan how you might enhance your connections with others this week. It doesn’t take much, and it is well worth the effort.
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- De Silva MJ, McKenzie K, Harpham T, Huttly SR. Social capital and mental illness: a systematic review. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005;59(8):619–27.
- Wang HH. A meta-analysis of the relationship between social support and well-being. Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 1998;14(11):717–26.