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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:37

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Let's say that you had a really bad day at school or at work. What is one of the first things that you would do when you got home? Maybe you would call your parents, or meet up with friends, or reach out to people online. You would turn to your social network for social support in times of stress. But, social support doesn't just come from our close friends and family. It comes from everyone that we reach out to and everyone that we get support from. So, imagine that this person is you, and let's try to get a sense of how your social network can provide you with social support. And keep in mind that individual people can play multiple roles and give you different kinds of support. And there are four main kinds of social support, or four kinds of support that we can provide for each other. The first one is emotional support. And this includes things like affection, love, trust, and caring. This is the kind of support that involves listening and empathizing, but it can also include physical things like hugs or pats on the back. And it's usually provided by those who are closest to you, so your family and your close friends. The next kind of support is esteem support. And this includes expressions of confidence and encouragement. Things that people say to let you know that they believe in you. And while this can also come from family and friends, it can also come from therapists, or coaches, or teachers. The next kind of support is informational support. And this includes sharing information with us or giving us advice. And, like the other kinds of support, this can also come from your family and friends, but it also comes from that unknown person who wrote that WebMD article about how to deal with the flu. We also have tangible support. And that can include financial assistance, material goods or services. Basically, taking some of your responsibilities so that you can deal with other problems. And this kind of support can come from impersonal entities like a bank, but it can also include people who bring you dinner when you're sick, or someone who lends you money when you're between jobs. And I know I said that there were four kinds of social support, but I'm actually gonna add a fifth now. And that's companionship support. And this is the kind of support that gives someone a sense of social belonging. It's companionship while you engage in an activity. And all these different kinds of social support can come from a ton of different places: your family, friends, romantic partners, pets, co-workers, also your healthcare specialists and community organizers. All of these different people form a social web around you that provides you with social support. And we happen to know that social support is actually incredibly important. Because it turns out that social support is actually a major determinant of health and well-being. Well-supported people tend to live longer, healthier lives. People with high levels of support also experience fewer mental health issues, and they're more likely to engage in healthy behaviors like exercise or not smoking. And it's hard to know exactly why this is, but it could be that social support helps to inoculate us against the effects of life's stressors. But what happens when we don't have a strong support network? It turns out that people with low social support tend to report more symptoms related to depression and anxiety. They tend to have higher rates of mental disorders and are more likely to have alcohol and drug problems. But I think the most interesting thing is that individuals with low social support actually have a higher risk of death from things like cancer and heart disease. And now that you're aware of all this, you probably see why it's important to pay attention, not only to your own social support, but also to the social support that you provide for others. Because just as other people form a web of social support around you, you also help to provide support for everyone in that network.