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Resilience: Social Support Benefits

Harry Mills, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 4th 2016

Positive emotions benefit your social health as well as your physical health. Sharing of positive emotions with others helps to bond people together, creating and maintaining strong, healthy, and caring relationships. Caring relationships, in turn, provide social support which nourishes further emotional resilience, and positive feeling states. It is a circular, self-reinforcing movement towards health. The better you feel, and the more you share that positive feeling with others, the more you are able to draw upon the relationships you create through that sharing to create further positive feelings.

The social support benefits of relationships are numerous and important:

  • Close caring relationships offer opportunities to express and to receive love, both of which are important for identity, self-worth and self-esteem. They offer a path towards becoming part of something larger than yourself which which you can identify in a positive manner. They keep you from feeling lonely. They support you when you are down. They are environments in which it becomes likely you will experience positive states: 1) feeling accepted and cared for, and 2) happy playfulness.
  • Inside the give and take of relating are many opportunities to practice social skills (which turn out to be resilience skills as will become clear later on). Healthy relationships promote communication, reciprocity and compassion. They also function as a sounding board, and can provide opportunities for reality testing. Friends may offer workable solutions to problems you would have never come up with on your own.
  • By offering you opportunities to network with people you would not otherwise meet, relationships can benefit you economically (by helping you to find work or work opportunities), and romantically (by introducing you to potential romantic partners).

Where positive feelings help you to build relationships, negative feelings do the opposite. Depressed, negative feeling states tend to break relationships down and erode social support. Negative feelings tend to be consuming and to promote self-centeredness. They do not motivate people to attend to the needs of others. Though friends and family often want to support their depressed relationship partners, they find this a difficult task as depressed, negative people tend to withdraw from offers of support and to isolate themselves. It is ultimately frustrating to remain in relationships with negative-minded people and one by one, the relationships that depressed people have grow more distant or extinguish.

Reader Comments
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step by step - evebhon eslit - Jan 27th 2010

sometimes we have to take the risk of thinking, for us to gain the porpuse of what to believe and to live... i'm with you in the same struggle... just settle down, be simple just don't be in a hurry... then walk with GOD in the path of serenity...:D "MABUHAY KA KAPATID" -DAGHANG SALAMAT

Hi - - Jun 27th 2009

It sounds like you have been through an awful lot and are well on the way to achieving your goal

From what you've said... - - Feb 27th 2008
You're doing great if you ask me.... stepping in the best direction for you.

one foot in front of the other - JMTCapron - May 1st 2007

 I search for hopeful information regularly. My story has been challenging for several years and I struggle at times to continue . I have certain values and beliefs that compound my issues. I am an epileptic and recovereing addict. I've a list of abuses that have touched me that would be worthy of "Peyton Place " status , My most important challenge to my personal satisfaction is that I don't have to become dependant on anti-depressants. Maybe it seems small , for me it's huge ! It ties in to the state of this countrie mentality "just give me a pill tio fix it " to the "victim " mentality that some  choose.accept. I don't want anything to do with either. I often thought that insanity in small amounts has preserved my  overall sanity.This I've been saying since the late 70's. In 2002 my father, my hero passed away, In 03' I was divorced after a 23 yr. marriage, In 04' I watched my son go to jail and go to recovery. I'm responsible for my mother both physically and financially. am determined to get back on my feet. for myself and get my life back ,on my terms and not on the terms of today's ideals. Sounds rigid , but maybe it's all in the attitude. Whoever reads this , "Do I sound comimtited or perhaps I should  be?"What do you think? I ask because I tend to rationalize irrational scenario's, and I'd like some opinions. THank you

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