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Social Connections - Topic Overview

What are social connections?

Social connections are the relationships you have with the people around you. They may be close, like family, friends, and coworkers, or more distant, like people you know casually. They can be as close as next door or so far away that you only connect with them by telephone or through the Internet.

Your network of relationships may be big or small. One or two close family members or friends may be all you need to feel supported and valued. Whether your circle is big or small, the important thing is that you are there for each other.

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Why are social connections important?

Resilience, the ability to bounce back after stressful situations, is strengthened when you give and receive support. Building positive relationships with people can make a difference in how resilient you are. Try to connect with people who have a positive outlook and can make you laugh and help you. The more positive your relationships are, the better you'll be able to face life's challenges.

The support you get from your social connections can add to your feelings of meaning and purpose in life. These, in turn, add to your resilience. Happy, resilient people tend to be more connected to the people around them. Resilient people know that they can depend on the strength of their family and friends when the going gets tough.

Remember that giving support is just as important as getting support. You count on your social connections for support, but they also count on you. Ask others about their families, jobs, and interests, and help them when you can. Don't always focus on your challenges or talk about yourself. Know when it's time to listen or just enjoy your friends' company. Giving support to others builds the social bonds that help make you resilient.

How can you make more social connections?

There are many ways you can start building positive relationships:

  • Invite a friend who makes you laugh, and go to a funny movie.
  • Send an encouraging email or text message to someone who's going through a hard time.
  • Look for a faith community that shares your views. It may also have its own organized social groups.
  • Call a food bank or hospital and ask about their volunteer programs.

You can also connect with people through social media on the Internet. Many people interact more freely with people they can't see face-to-face. Online forums about specific interests can be a good choice for people who cannot leave their homes or are shy or self-conscious.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: February 19, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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