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Do people with less social support have higher risks of premature death?

Inga Gerard, RN
Nursing

The report of the saguaro seminar Better Together: civic engagement in America. Reprint of 2000 report with new introduction  pg. 8 states the following : “Joining a group boosts your life expectancy just as much as quitting smoking".

Think back to times where you were feeling down or bummed about something and a someone came along a made you feel better by telling a joke or providing distractions or just by listening to you vent about any and everything. Think about the times where you wished you had someone to talk to but didn't either because you didn't feel it was safe to or didn't have anyone that you trusted who was available. Having relationships, whether they be groups or individuals have been shown to increase the immune system's effectiveness and add years to your life. Do people with more social support have better chances of fighting off premature deaths?  You betcha.

Suicides have been attempted when people were in a mental state of social isolation even though there were plenty of people in their lives. Emotional isolation seems to be the most important factor in pushing people to the brink of such self-destructive actions. Those who have survived tragedy or overcome obstacles often give credit to people whom they were able to rely upon and share their emotional burdens with.

Social support can provide you with education about topics you might not otherwise learn about on your own. Weight loss groups, addiction recovery groups and all manner of social groups give people access to insight that can help them make better choices and learn better thought processes than they would have ever known on their own.

Never underestimate the power of having good friends. You never know how what someone else  knows could help add years to your life. The more friends, the merrier, since it is impossible for one person to meet all of your needs. Maybe one friend will say something that helps you quit smoking for good (or even just fight the temptation to smoke in the moment or  for 1 day). Another friend might help you lose those last stubborn 5 pounds you've been struggling with all by your lonesome or help you learn to cherish your body no matter how hard and fast those pounds stick.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.