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What is Social Support?

Think about all of the people you know in your life. Of these people, is there someone you feel like you can talk to or confide in? What about when you’re experiencing something difficult in your life and need advice, do you have someone you can reach out to?

by | Dec 9, 2021

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Social support is the emotional comfort you receive by feeling seen, heard, and cared for by people you know and trust, which can be made up of friends, family, or colleagues. Think of it as your network of people, groups, or communities that you can turn to in times of need –  during the highs and lows of daily life. 

When considering your social support network the key is to think of it in terms of your relationships. This is important as the quality of these relationships also affects the quality of the social support you receive. Similar to regularly exercising as part of a routine for good health, relationships need regular maintenance via staying in touch and mutual giving and receiving of support. 

What is the role of social support?

Social support is often overlooked when considering your overall health. However, many studies on the effects of social support have found that it greatly improves physical and psychological health. Alternatively, the absence of social support has been associated with a greater risk of poor mental health (depression, loneliness) and poor heart health. 

Benefits of social support

Types of Social support 

Social support can show up in many forms depending on what you need for a particular situation and the role a person plays in your relationship. In some situations, you may not be looking for advice and just need someone to actively listen to you, which can result in a more reflective experience. 

  1. Emotional: Active listening, physical comfort (hugs!), or validation.  
  2. Tangible: Helping with responsibilities/tasks to resolve a problem.
  3. Informational: Advice or sharing information.
  4. Appraisal: Words of affirmation or encouragement.

Ready to put social support into action?

Here’s a relationship exercise that helps you identify the people that make up your support network. You’ll need a piece of paper or a digital notepad.

Part 1: Make a list of people by answering the first two questions.

  1. Who are all your friends?
  2. Who are all your family?

Part 2: Of the people you listed above, write the names you feel best fit the questions below. You may find that some people overlap in certain areas while others might not fit any of the questions – that’s perfectly okay! This is part of the process.

  1. You’re getting married today. Who is standing by your side at the ceremony?
  2. A movie is being made about your life. Who are the supporting characters?
  3. Who loves you?
  4. Who is really important to you even though they’re far away or you don’t see them often?
  5. Your top 2-3 hobbies: Who do you share them with?
  6. Who can you count on for a favor at any time?
  7. Who can you always count on for advice?
  8. Who are some people with whom you feel really safe sharing very personal issues with?
  9. Who are the people you most want to make proud?
  10. To whom would you offer help or favors, even if it was inconvenient?

Who made it to your list from part two? These are the people you can consider to be part of your social support network. While it’s not exhaustive, this exercise is meant to teach you how to think about your relationships in terms of the support you receive and give.

Part 3: Send a quick text or leave a sticky note for the people on your list sharing your gratitude for the ways they show up to support you.

About Fabriq

Build Better Social Habits

Fulfilling relationships are scientifically proven to keep you happy and healthy — boosting your immunity and longevity. When you prioritize the people that matter most, even when life gets full, you naturally show up better for them and yourself.

Science-backed and the first of its kind, Fabriq is designed to improve your social health and make building better social habits easy, so you can focus on what (and who) really matters.

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