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Stress and Social Support

Stress and Social Support

Social support means the people and other sources of physical and emotional comfort in our lives. Benefits of social support include warmth, intimacy, sharing accomplishments, self-esteem, self-identity, solace, comfort, and the easing of loneliness.

You may find that each person - or even a pet — provides you with a different type of social support. However, the quality of your social support is more important than the quantity. A single individual can serve as the source for all your social support needs.

Three Major Types of Social Support

  • Psychological/Emotional: Offers encouragement, comfort, someone to share your burdens with
  • Informational: Offers assistance with making decisions
  • Practical: Offers help with chores, financial assistance, work schedule adjustment, child care, etc.

Typical Sources of Support

  • Family (spouse/partner, children, parents, grandparents, siblings)
  • Close friends
  • Coworkers
  • Acquaintances (casual friends or contacts from church, school, neighbors, etc.)
  • Pets

Strategies to Improve Your Support Network

  • Be a good friend to others. Offer and provide support when needed. Remember how good it feels to help someone else.
  • Be willing to ask for and receive help from others.
  • Recognize that you are part of a group or community that relies on each other. You don't need to be completely independent.
  • Communicate your feelings and needs more directly with members of your current social support network. Most people want to help, but don't always know what is needed.
  • Find new ways to get comfort and support (support groups, therapy/counseling, keeping a journal).
  • Practice being assertive, not aggressive or passive.

Assertiveness

  • Means asking for what you want in a simple, direct way that does not negate, attack, or manipulate anyone else. You take responsibility for getting your needs met in a way that maintains the dignity of other people, as well as your own.
  • Helps you express anger in a healthy manner.
  • Helps develop self-respect and self-worth.
  • Can be learned, strengthened, and practiced for better results.

Helpful Books

  • Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships (9th Edition). Robert E. Alberti and Michael L. Emmons (2008)
  • The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook: Proven, Step-by-Step Techniques for Overcoming Your Fear. Martin M. Antony and Richard P. Swinson (2008)

Helpful Websites