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SUPPORT SYSTEMS

"Together we stand and divided we fall.” This cliché has stood the test of time. Since the beginning of the human race man has depended on each other for every thing from food gathering to shelter, and all that is essential to survival. He has always had a preference to living in-group setting as opposed to living alone. Similar clichés that have stood the test are, “ No man is an island,” and “No man lives alone.” Loneliness undermines people’s health. Doctors and psychologists have known for years that people who are lonely do not live as long as people who are not and they tend to have more medical problems than non-lonely people.

Loneliness and isolation are primary contributors to depression. When the mind is depressed, it also depresses our physical system and organs of the body. This leads to a weakening in the immune system rendering us more prone and susceptive to illness. Studies have demonstrated that lonely people die at three times the rate of people who have good social systems and support.

Developing social systems and making friends is a frightening task for individuals who have avoided being social most of their lives. They lack the skills and have strong fears of rejection.  It should be remembered that rejections can always serve as something to work with--something to build on and make improvements to. It can serve as a guide to our next efforts and minimize our risk and fears when we make our next try. The old saying of if you try and do not succeed, the solution is to try and try again. There is no such thing as failure when you are trying especially when you find a way to profit from what you have tried and get back to it. Failure only comes when you give up.

If you do not have a satisfactory social support network it would be a good idea to set some Personalized Stress Management (PSM) goals for establishing one. It is an invaluable asset to maintaining good health and a sense of well-being. Here are some brief tips for getting started:
• Ask someone you know or a co-worker to lunch.
• Send post cards to relatives and old friends you have not contacted in a while.
• Learn to forgive and restore relationships where possible
• Join a club, association, or group. Take a leadership roll.
• Volunteer your services for a worthy cause.
• Attend a church or community organization. Participate in the many activities they may offer.
• Join a health club or spa. It has double benefits. Improving your health and opportunities to meet someone you may want to get to know.
• Take a class that with a subject or hobby of interest to you. Congregate with the fellow students. Work on a joint project or goal.
• Don’t miss out on family gatherings on special occasions.
• Don’t be afraid to say hello to people. Notice details of how they look or carry themselves and find things you can give them compliments on.
• As you get to know others be receptive to them sharing their feelings and what’s going on in their lives. Take some risk by doing some sharing of your own.
• Ask around. Get tips from other about how to become more social and open in your relationship with others.
• Rate your closeness to people you know on a scale of one to ten. One being the closest. Those over five try to bring them closer.
• Value and nurture whatever relationships you have already.

Source: Personalized Stress Management: A Manual for Everyday Life and Work
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