Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment

Our social environment

We are social beings. We influence the people around us – our families, friends, and the community at large. And they influence us.

TTC Paddlers Photo

We want to fit in, be like the people we admire, keep pace with others. Just think of how quickly we adopt the current trends in clothing, music, hairstyles and even food.

A similar thing happens when it comes to health. What we do, how we think, and what we feel are affected by those around us. This can be positive as when people of all ages come out for a community dance. But these influences can also be negative as when a friend offers a cigarette, or a drink, to someone who is trying to quit.

Emotions like happiness and depression can spread from person to person. Behaviours like drinking, smoking, volunteering, and exercising also spread through social networks.

Whether a person is motivated to try a new, healthier behaviour and whether they are successful in maintaining a change often depends on what others are doing around them. But sometimes all it takes is one or two people to adopt a new, healthier behaviour to start a chain reaction!

Of course, social relationships are not only about influencing others. Social relationships are good, in and of themselves. People who are well connected with others enjoy better physical and mental health, are happier and live longer.

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