Personal health depends partially on the social structure of one's life. The maintenance of strong social relationships is linked to good health conditions, longevity, productivity, and a positive attitude. This is due to the fact that positive social interaction as seen by the partaker increases many chemical levels in the brain which are linked to personality and intelligence traits.
|Intro to health|
Social health points to "that dimension of our well-being that concerns how we get along with other people, how other people react to us, and how we interact with social institutions and societal mores". (Russell 1973, p. 75).
The social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies, and politics.
Sociocultural factors are important determinants of health. Sociocultural determinants of health include societal resources (e.g., social institutions, economic systems, political structures), physical surroundings (e.g., neighborhoods, workplaces, built environments), and social relationships. Recognition that health is a product of social conditions facilitates identification of social determinants that might be amenable to community interventions that can lead to improved health outcomes. These interventions might also reduce the persistent disparities in health related to socioeconomic status, education, and housing.
Social disadvantage can be based on material conditions, determined by access to resources and services that affect health such as adequate nutrition, sanitation, housing, and medical care. It also can be of a psychosocial nature, based on human relationships and their psychological effects. For example, unfair treatment based on one’s race or ethnic group can cause psychological distress. In addition, one’s awareness of being in a group that has historically suffered discrimination could act as a chronic stressor, even in the absence of overt incidents of unfair treatment. These dimensions often coexist and interact.
Material disadvantage (eg, resulting from inadequate income or wealth) can affect obesity by influencing the ability to purchase nutritious food or to live in a neighborhood with safe, pleasant places to exercise and markets that sell affordable fresh produce. Material hardship also could increase obesity risk insofar as it is a source of chronic stress; stress could limit people’s ability to change weight-related behaviors even when informed and motivated. Low educational attainment could increase the risk of obesity by limiting economic opportunities or one’s ability to understand and act on health information.
There exists a bidirectional network of interactions between the central nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system. The existence of these pathways allows stressful life experience to impact the immune system with important implications for health. One powerful elicitor of changes in the autonomic, endocrine and immune systems is threat to social status.
Virtually all major diseases are primarily determined by a network of interacting exposures that increase or decrease the risk for the disease. This is particularly the case for cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes with these conditions the result of social, economic, and political forces.
We can make an effort to get better along with people around us, and take the initiative to get more involved in different social activities. Social connections are important as instrumental help and emotional support in times of need. They offer feedback which reinforces our sense of belonging. Social interaction is also closely related with mental health since a lack of it can tend to decrease our serotonin levels and can lead to depression.
To improve your social skills, you must start with yourself. Bear in mind that you are the only one who can help. It is very good to be sociable, but you must take action and practice. Here are some steps you can take:
- Make eye contact. A sliver of self-confidence goes a long way, so try to believe in yourself. (Do not try to be a person that you are not).
- Remember the E word: Empathy! Ask people about themselves. People love to talk about themselves and what they're interested in. Try to draw them out, find common interests, and sympathize with their problems.
- Put in the effort. When you are at home, call friends and talk to them on the phone and always try to accept others' offers and invitations and be with them. Also make invitations to others; it's a good way to show people you enjoy them and they'll like you for it.
- Don't be by yourself all the time! If you don't know a lot of people you're around, just walk over and start talking. Most likely, they will talk back to you. Be an optimist.
- People flock to happy people like bees gather near honey. Find ways to be happy and positive. Compliment people. It's a great conversation-starter.
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