Social Support and Your Immune System
Researchers are asserting that social interactions can reduce stress, build self-esteem, and act as a buffer from our environment, thus enhancing the immune system and protecting us from certain illness and disease. The research at the University of California concluded that isolation contributes to chronic stress, which will negatively impact your immune system and put you at risk for mental and physical health problems.
The consequence of emotional abandonment can lead to a variety of psychological problems such as, depression, suicidal ideologies, somatic disorders, addictions, and low self-esteem. Physical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, immune infections, digestive disorders, and some researchers claim social isolation can increase the risk of cancer. In fact, researchers have discovered people with chronic illness normally do not have a strong system and weak social ties.
Social support is important to good health because it affects the number of T- lymphocyte cells. Researchers studied a group of people with a high social support system and compared them to those with very low or no social support. They found that T- lymphocyte cells were much higher in people who had adequate social ties and their overall health was satisfactory. Those who had low social support and no family or friends were stricken with far more illness and their overall health was poor.
There are numerous ways to increase social support and friendships. Look for social groups that share the same interests you do. You can engage in some sort of support group as there are support groups for almost everything these days. A great way to get social support and help your community is to volunteer for something. Find a cause that interests you and donate some time.
Social support can help get you in shape as well. Joining classes such as exercise, yoga or martial arts can help you be with people while finding your center and becoming healthier not just your body, but your mind and spirit. You can also join a gym and get involved with classes and activities there.
Having good relationships with people can increase health, decrease stress and build a better immune system. By surrounding yourself with people who can offer support, help prevent isolation and build positive relationships, you can increase your chances of living a happier healthier life.