Throughout the program so far we’ve encouraged support building to meet your weekly activity goal or to complete the healthy habit challenge. Now we want to dedicate a week to the topic! Your challenge for Week 9 is to identify 1 new support to add to your network. This support could be a group or civic organization, individual, or community agency that supports you in your path to better health.
Why is support important?
Research has shown a link between social connections and health. Greater support from family, friends, and the community can have a positive effect! The amount of social connections make a difference as well as whether the relationship has positive aspects such as emotional support. When you take action to build your support network, consider how your current relationships support you. You may choose to add or strengthen the relationships that make you feel good and enrich your life. You may also choose to limit time spent with individuals and groups who bring you down.
How does support improve health?
The link may be that social connections can influence whether or not you engage in healthy behaviors that enhance physical health. You may experience improvements in mental health, an important health outcome on its own. There can also be a ripple effect where improved mental health impacts behaviors that improve physical health, thus enhancing the effect.
What does support look like?
Support can come in many forms from different groups of people. You may receive support from those with whom you engage in your community, your friends and family, and health care and mental health providers.
Types of support you receive may be:
- Emotional - listens, trustworthy, offers encouragement
- Instrumental (tangible) - helps with errands or gives you a lift
- Informational - offers information and guidance
- Appraisal - offers insights and encouragement that help you see yourself better
Can you give me some ideas of support?
Of course! You may choose to call a trusted friend when you are feeling upset (emotional). A friendly coworker may be your biggest source of support in office meetings (moral), and a member of your church may pick you up on Saturdays to take you to the grocery store (practical). You may find that you have someone who provides more than one type of support.
Depending on your needs, you may choose to build support through community agencies and support services. When managing chronic diseases like diabetes, disease-specific support groups can be a way to meet others who can relate to your experience and with whom you may swap strategies. Social support services such as those that offer job training or financial planning can be practical support options too. When you build skills it can build confidence and reduce stress. Mental health providers can offer support through life events like a job loss or death of a loved one but can also be important regular support for ongoing health and well being.