Your social network can have a significant effect on your health – studies have shown that those with stronger social networks enjoy multiple physiological, psychological and long-term health benefits than those who lack social support.
This is particularly important at times of pressure and stress, when a sense of isolation can lead to higher experienced stress levels. And what about at work?
Today, I want to talk about the importance of cultivating a strong support network at work – what kind of people it might be most helpful to have around you and how to go about doing this.
Social networks have been shown to be as closely linked to your chances of dying as smoking, booze, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Without a strong social network, raised stress hormones can lead to damage to our immune and cardiovascular systems, as well as reduced motivation to engage in healthy behaviours.
Recovery from illness is prolonged when you don’t have a good support network too.
Why might this be? Some research relates positive health outcomes to reduced chances of inflammation (as we know, the basis of all diseases) when we have people around us who we value; we also know that positive neurotransmitters and hormones like oxytocin kick in when we feel connected, and these hormones can reduce stress levels, which in turn improves immune system function, and that can reduce the chances of you getting ill.
If you’re less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours with a stronger social network, it all stands to reason that you’re less likely to get ill or die.
Psychology@Work with The Strengths Guy!
Deep dive into strengths-based psychologist Dr Paul Brewerton's mind for insights on human behaviour in the world of work, helping you get the most from work and from life, every day. A series of weekly podcasts to help you transform your understanding of individuals and how to help them reach their best performance.