The main ingredient of optimal health

What do you do when your kitchen table loses a leg? You fix it to get it balanced again, right? Support. It needs support to stand upright. Well, that’s exactly what you need too for a well-rounded healthy life.

A healthy life isn’t just about eating well and exercising. Mental and emotional wellbeing are of immense importance too. And a large part of this wellbeing is support – from friends and family.

The power of support

Life has many ups and downs and we all need people to lean on during tough times. Social support can even boost your physical and mental health. The Canadian Mental Association says that social support is the physical and emotional comfort given to you by your family, friends and colleagues.

The reality is that we need people on whom we can depend during challenging, frustrating times. Maintaining a healthy social support network can be difficult and you will need to consistently put in the effort. Social support can comfort you during stressful periods, and enhance your feelings of security, more so when you have people who can help you with information, advice and guidance. When you’re unknowingly drowning in stressful situations, some friends can even help you identify when you’re stressed and may even notice it before you do.

Friendships are good for your health as they prevent loneliness, offer companionship and increase your feelings of belonging and purpose. Good support helps reduce your stress, contribute to your happiness, cope with trauma and boost your self-worth. Friends also play a role in mental health like reducing the risk of depression. Studies have found that adults with strong social circles are more likely to live longer than those with fewer connections.

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Find the support you need through…

Friends and family: It’s not enough to just have one person who you can lean on as you may overly depend on and exhaust them. Alternate between your favourite cousin and best friend; the more supportive people you have in your life the more effective your support system will be. Different people can also make you see the same problem from different angles. Your friends and family know you best. They’re able to spot unusual or unhealthy behaviour. They should be your cheerleaders and help you gain more hope, courage and strength.

Therapy: At times you may find that your friends and family have a lot that they deal with too. During these times you may need professional support. A therapist can offer great support to help you through your issues and struggles.

Support groups: Support groups will connect you with people who may have had similar experiences and can understand what you’re going through. Through this you can learn new coping mechanisms with the support of your group members.

Religion and spirituality: Finding your Zen through spirituality or religion can bring a sense of hope and purpose to our lives. This builds strength and resilience. You can also connect with a community of others who have similar beliefs.

Hobbies: The activities you enjoy the most don’t just add fun to your life; but in the process of a good time you can connect with people. This will help you break out from your problems and give you a chance to feel good about yourself again.

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