Can you recall a time in your life when you felt upset and reached out to a friend or family member? Usually a good conversation can help us feel better, regarding a difficult time. Social support is an important and critical aspects to our lives. Having support from a friend, family member or loved one helps us to feel valued and provides us with a feeling of belonging. In addition, social support reduces stress, provides us with coping strategies, increase the likelihood of adopting healthier behaviors and/or stopping an unhealthy behavior due to the affects a behavior (such as smoking) can have on others (Gruman,281). There are different kinds of support such as emotional, esteem, instrumental, informational, and network support. Each type of support is beneficial in its own unique way. Maybe you hit a financial struggle and need practical help such as a small loan to get you by. Support in the form of money, a ride to work, or help with a job is known as instrumental support. Emotional and esteem support builds on the notion of feeling loved, valued and acceptance. This type of support can reduce the severity of stress and it’s an aspect of the transactional model of stress and coping. The basic concept of this model is support, in knowing you are not alone. Situations become less stressful when you know you have someone to help.
Informational support provided insight from others referring to a situation where you might need advice, feedback to help point you in the right direction. Lastly, network support provides a sense of togetherness through social companionship by connecting on common or shared interests (Gruman, 282). Social media gets its fair share of criticism. I personally limited my interaction and time from social networking. Social media in the right light can provide positive feedback. A “liked” comment or picture on social media can provide simple gratification. However, providing yourself with a real conversation weather it is over the phone or face-to-face, present a longer lasting and more personal gratification of support.
Did you know social support can actually extend the life of an individual? This topic was first introduced to me in a previous psychology course. When this topic was represented during our lesson coverage, I immediately took advantage on reconstructing past knowledge with new discovered knowledge. I enjoyed reading how effective support can reduce the likelihood that an individual will perceive an effect as stressful (Gruman,283). This coping strategy is powerful. If an individual can help manage a difficult event from elevating into a stressful event, then the sympathetic nervous system will not get over activated. Our sympathetic nervous system is what become active when our body reacts to stress. Examples of our body reacting toward stress includes, heart racing, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, secretion of adrenaline (Spaolsky,21). When the sympathetic nervous system is regularly overloaded the risk for serious health conditions becomes more prevalent. Individual with social insecurities have overactive sympathetic nervous systems (Sapolsky,251). This is due to lack of social support and its benefits when managing stress.
I can relate to the sense of security associated with effective support in knowing I have a few good friends and family I can turn to in the case of a difficult situation. A strong social support is essential in coping with stress and with overall well-being. Friends and family provide that extra strength we sometimes feel we lack. Remembering that strength can help make future situations a little easier to manage. It is important to remember all the different types of social support and how knowledge on the subject can help others when it comes to stress and difficult situations. In closing, we are all social beings. The social interactions we want to sometimes avoid in reality are the interactions we most benefit from when we reach out for help.
Applied Social Psychology : Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems, edited by Jamie A. Gruman, et al., SAGE Publications, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pensu/detail.action?docID=5945490.
Sapolsky, Robert. Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers. Saint Martin s Press Inc. Third Edition. New York, New York. 2004