Amy Scholten, MPH
Social support refers to a person’s network of relationships with other people. It can be defined in terms of:
Studies have found that social support often plays a role in health and well-being. Many researchers believe that social support can help:
Other benefits that may be derived from social support include:
Take a look at your current social network. Assess your level of satisfaction with the quantity and quality of your relationships.
How satisfied are you with the number of relationships you have and the amount of time you socialize with others?
How satisfied are you in your relationships with family and friends? In the majority of these relationships, do you feel that you are:
Almost everyone can benefit from some type of social skills training. Consider classes, therapy, and books that can help you:
Getting involved in activities in your community is a great way to meet people. Here are some ideas:
The following are some ideas to help you get to know people in your neighborhood and community.
By risking a little, you can gain a lot. Here are some tips to help you:
Support groups are for people who share a common problem. Most communities have support groups concerning issues such as divorce, bereavement, single parenting,
cancer, and caregiving. Consider forming your own group. You can find resources at your local library or online.
Volunteers are needed almost everywhere—hospitals, nursing homes, charities, churches, and so on. Contribute your talents to a cause that makes you happy. Create your own opportunity.
A compatible roommate can ease some of the loneliness, as well as share some expenses. Interview potential roommates carefully. If you’re looking for a place to live, pay attention to signs of friendly housing.
After relationships develop, they must be maintained—something that takes time and effort. Here are some tips:
Many people find that a pet helps to fulfill their needs for warmth, affection, and companionship.
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychological Association
Mental Health Canada
How stress affects your health. American Psychological Association website. Available at:
http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx. Updated 2013. Accessed February 18, 2014.
Lyumbomirsky S, King L, Denier E. The benefits of frequent positive affect: does happiness lead to success? Psych. 2005;131(6):803-855. American Psychological Association website. Available at: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/bul-1316803.pdf. Accessed February 18, 2014.
Review of research challenges assumption that success makes people happy: happiness may lead to success via positive emotions. American Psychological Association website. Available at:
http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2005/12/success.aspx. Published December 18, 2005. Accessed February 18, 2014.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
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