The Beatles were right: we do indeed get by with a little help from our friends.
Strong personal relationships and feeling connected to community aren’t just nice ideas – they have a real impact on the quality of our lives. People who have close friends and confidants, friendly neighbors and supportive co-workers are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness and low self-esteem, and have fewer problems related to eating and sleeping.
Most of us experience stress from time to time. We’re busy people juggling many responsibilities and challenges. In these times of stress, the number and quality of social ties that we have directly our impact our ability to successfully handle that stress. That’s because close and supportive interpersonal relationships help discourage negative coping behaviors like substance use, self-harm and violence, and in turn, encourage positive coping behaviors, like exercise, writing, and talking about problems.
Robert D. Putnam expressed this idea in his groundbreaking book Bowling Alone that “…Happiness is best predicted by the breadth & depth of one’s social connections.” This level of “connectedness” takes many forms in many different spheres of life, including our families, peer relationships, neighborhood, schools, workplaces and organizations.
There are many ways that positive, supportive relationships have a lasting impact on mental wellness. For example, the connection between teenagers and their parents and families is associated with lowered drug use and suicidal behavior, especially among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The Family Acceptance Project highlights this link.
Feeling like we fit in and have a place in the world is a universal human need. Strong connections can increase a person’s sense of belonging to a group, and a sense of personal value or worth. Stronger connections to others naturally help us gain access to larger networks of support. To highlight this point, the more connected students feel toward their school, the more likely they’ll perform better in the classroom, have better school attendance, and stay in school longer, and the less likely that they’ll participate in harmful behaviors, such as smoking, abusing alcohol and other drugs, and using violence.
This is all to say that the more robust our connections are to each other and to our communities, the happier and healthier we’ll be.
And in that spirit, we all have a responsibility to take care of each other. Get to know your neighbors. Give that friend you haven’t seen in a while a call or drop them an email. Meet up with a friend or family member you’ve been meaning to see. Let them all know that you’ve been thinking about them. You never know the positive impact you might have – on yourself as well as on them.
Weekly Flu Report, February 12, 2016 posted on Feb 12
Rates of flu-like illness continued to climb over the past seven days, according to the latest weekly flu report. This is consistent with what we typically see at this point of flu season in years past. And if prior flu seasons are any indication, we can …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, February 12, 2016
Happy Valentine’s Day…Made Even Happier! posted on Feb 11
I used to think that Halloween through New Year’s was the hardest time of the year to stick to my goal of eating healthfully, considering leftover candy from trick or treating, Thanksgiving dinner, holiday parties and gatherings—the list goes on and on. By the time …Continue Reading Happy Valentine’s Day…Made Even Happier!
Highlights from the February 10th Public Health Council Meeting posted on Feb 10
This month’s Public Health Council meeting featured a series of presentations and discussions on proposed amendments to regulations, followed by informational updates on select Department initiatives. First the Council received updates from the Department on the status of proposed amendments to regulations related to: Safety Requirement for …Continue Reading Highlights from the February 10th Public Health Council Meeting