Did you know that having good social and emotional support can decrease the risk of experiencing depression and loneliness and relieve the effects of stress? According to Very Well Mind, loneliness has been linked to alcohol use, suicide, heart disease, and can even alter brain function. Having a dependable and encouraging group of friends and family members is one way to provide yourself with a social support network to combat depression and loneliness. Whether offering encouragement when you are working towards a goal or offering instrumental support in the form of giving a necessary ride or meal, having supportive friends or family is super beneficial. Aside from that, having a social support network can also increase your ability to tackle tough obstacles on your own too. According to the American Psychological Association, having strong social support improves your sense of autonomy and your self-esteem, which can provide the courage and confidence you need to face difficult and stressful situations.
Stress is something that we all deal with, it’s a part of life. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage the stress in our daily lives (as well as in the extraordinary and unexpected parts of life). We all want to be able to adapt in the face of adversity in order to meet any challenge life throws our way. But, according to the American Institute of Stress, stress reduction can actually improve the immune system! The immune system is what protects us against getting sick, so it is especially valuable for us to keep it in peak working condition.
IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPORT
Pregnancy puts a woman’s body through so many changes. Unfortunately, one of these changes is a weakening of the immune system. Although this is a necessary part of a pregnancy in order to keep a pregnant woman’s immune system from attacking the developing cells of the fetus, it does leave pregnant women slightly more vulnerable to getting sick. This is why it is extra important for women who are pregnant to find healthy ways to decrease stress. The Mayo Clinic recommends a strong social support network to improve your ability to cope with stressful situations and alleviate the effects of emotional distress.
There are lots of ways to work on your social network even if you cannot be physically close. Speaking to friends and family on the phone, doing a video chat, and even exchanging an email can be tools for building a strong social support network. Being a good listener for others and having others available to be a good listener for you can be great ways to nurture relationships and get support for yourself and others.
Emotional support can also come from other places besides your support network. Some people choose to participate in support groups led by a professional or talk therapy with a professional. With the technology available now, like video chat, this can even be done online without ever having to leave your house (like through the website Talkspace). Sometimes there are things you would rather not talk to your support system about and in those times, it is great to have another person who you know will hold your conversations in confidence.
Part of self-care and making sure that you are managing your stress in a healthy way is nurturing supportive relationships and accepting emotional support. Even when you have a good support system though, don’t forget that it is also important to engage in personal self-care activities. These are activities that bring you an inner feeling of peace and make you feel that you are taking care of yourself. Whether it is a bath, listening to a favorite podcast, doing half an hour of yoga, or meditation, this will also help decrease the effects of stress. Armed with self-care and good social and emotional support, you can combat depression and loneliness, keep your immune system strong and healthy, and conquer any stressful obstacle!
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