It’s no secret that those who have a strong support system often fare better during tough times. Friends and family can ease fears and help with practical details during times of stress and illness. Often, it’s just a question of not feeling alone and of knowing someone else is aware of what you are going through and that it is difficult.
One or two friends or family members may be all you need to get through a difficult patch in life. But, ideally, a whole social network is the way to go. The more people you can talk to and ask for assistance, the better.
This is an excellent strategy, especially when dealing with health issues. According to a recent study from the
University of Michigan, people who have a strong social network feel less pain and anxiety before having surgery than those who are isolated.
Researchers at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System studied 605 patients who underwent major surgery to find out how social connectedness affected recovery.
The research team gathered data about how many close friends and relatives each participant had, how often they saw them, and if they attended a place of worship or social group at least once a week.
The researchers found some revealing results. Those who had larger social networks (three or more friends or relatives they saw regularly) worried less and felt less pain before surgery. Five days after the surgery, these patients had lower rates of anxiety and depression. They were also more at peace and more relaxed.
The researchers recorded some interesting results regarding the subject of pain, too. Those with larger social networks actually felt less pain. When they did experience pain they found it to be easier to deal with than those without a social network. Patients with family and friends to interact with needed less pain medication. And, they were 16% less likely to spend more than a week in hospital after surgery than their isolated counterparts.
So the good news is that getting support from family and friends can definitely have a positive impact on your health.
Don’t forget to keep in touch on a regular basis. That way, everything will already be in place should you find yourself temporarily ill and in need of support. A few ups and downs in any relationship are worth the effort when you know someone will really come through for you if you ever get ill or find yourself faced with a stay at the hospital.