Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment

It’s who you know

People climbing rock wall photoA social network is a group of people joined together by relationships – social networks include close intimate relationships with family and friends as well as more casual relationships with acquaintances. A mix of both close and casual relationships works best for most people. In general, health improves with the number of people in your network, the diversity of your network, and the amount of contact you have with people in your network…. within limits!

Social networks influence how we think and feel, and what we do. For example, depression and happiness can spread through social networks just as drinking and abstinence can spread. This is because social networks establish norms and values, give advice and information, share resources, and guide behavior.

It’s often easier to make a lifestyle change if you are connected with people who have similar goals, preferences and lifestyles. Being active is easier when you are around people who are active; it’s easier to quit smoking or drinking when you spend time with non-smokers and non-drinkers. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is a good example of a social network that helps many people stay sober by providing support and organizing social gatherings which are alcohol-free.

If you think the influence of social networks sounds a lot like peer pressure, you’re right!  Positive peer pressure can work for people of all ages. 

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