Social support might be regarded as even more important now that we are denied much of it with the Corona virus pandemic. Our social support may well have been unseen or we might not perceived it’s value until it has been taken away. Those retiring often forget many of the positives they get from work and ‘rush’ out of the door without managing the relationships giving them a future that still matter when one is no longer at the workplace.
Social support is the perception and actuality that one is cared for, has assistance available from other people and can come from a variety of sources, including family, friends, romantic partners, pets, community ties, and coworkers etc. The source of the social support is an important determinant of its effectiveness as a coping strategy. Support from a romantic partner is associated with health benefits, particularly for men and support from spouses buffered the negative effects of work stress.
Support can come from many sources, such as family, friends, pets, neighbours, coworkers, organisations and has been linked to many benefits for both physical and mental health.
Now more than ever we might look to get our social support online through blogs like this – please feel free to leave a socially supportive comment below! -Facebook, focused online forums and online support groups etc. Whatever the negatives of social media and there are many the ability to bring people together is amazing. Whether you have a hobby or medical condition shared by very few you can often find someone of a similar ilk and connect. Social support is often more effective when we get it from people like us!
Although probably not as good as face-to-face social support it does offer the unique aspects of convenience, anonymity, and non-judgemental interactions.
Two main models have been proposed to describe the link between social support and health.
In the buffering hypothesis, social support protects (or “buffers”) people from the bad effects of stressful life events (e.g., death of a spouse, job loss). Evidence for stress buffering is found when the correlation between stressful events and poor health is weaker for people with high social support than for people with low social support.
Direct effects hypothesis
In the direct effects hypothesis, people with high social support are in better health than people with low social support, regardless of stress
There are four common functions of social support.
- Emotional support is the offering of empathy, concern, affection, love, trust, acceptance, intimacy, encouragement, or caring. It is the warmth and nurture provided by sources of social support. Providing emotional support can let the individual know that he or she is valued.
- Tangible support is the provision of financial assistance, material goods, or services. This form of social support encompasses the concrete, direct ways people assist others.
- Informational support is the provision of advice, guidance, suggestions, or useful information to someone. This type of information has the potential to help others problem-solve.
- Companionship support is the type of support that gives someone a sense of social belonging. This can be seen as the presence of companions to engage in shared social activities.
In my humble opinion social support is best achieved when there is mutual benefit. Of course, a friend or family member may need more support, and this may in the main have to be one way, however offering social support can often be beneficial to the giver as well as the receiver.
So, whilst the pubs and clubs are closed, we might reach out and give and receive social support so that we might come out the other side of Covid-19 with more rather than less social connections and support. This is a great opportunity to plan the future too. Things may look a little bleak but however bad things get it will one day be over and it would be great if we could have some projects to look forward too and hit the ground running!
Get local neighbours involved – who needs help?
Phone a Friend
Join an online forum
Start a WhatsApp group
Connect with or
Socially distance but don’t be socially distant!
Wash your hands, stay safe and support those who are supporting us in these difficult times.