ACT Now! Connect… for Support
Humans are hard-wired for connection. In times of stress or change (like when we get diagnosed with diabetes or are cutting back on our favorite comfort food) we need a social network to lean on. Social networks are supportive friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Connection also includes knowing where to get formal supports (like help with medication) when we need them.
Here are some ways you can use your existing social networks to support a healthier lifestyle:
- Talk to your friends and family and recruit them to join you in the changes you want to make (new foods, exercise, etc.). Proactively build your team.
- Be very clear with friends, family, and co-workers about the goals you have and what you need. For example, “I’m determined to lose 10 pounds, so one of the things I’m doing is cutting way back on bread and fried foods.” If they don’t want to join you, at least they still know how to support you.
- Suggest a weekly/monthly potluck among friends where you can share healthy recipes.
- Suggest a friendly competition among friends—who can be the first one to (lose 5 pounds, get a certain number of steps, run a mile without stopping…).
- Start a neighbors’ walking group or a walking routine with family after dinner.
Sometimes our social circles are small, or our existing networks are not all that supportive of our efforts to build healthier habits. Here are some ways you can build new connections:
- Volunteer in your neighborhood or faith community
- Take a class at a local community college or arts center
- Join a gym, exercise class or hiking group (community centers often have free walking/hiking groups)
- Look for online communities of people going through the same things you are
- Call 211 (like dialing 911) and ask them what resources are in your neighborhood to help people get affordable fresh food or find safe exercise opportunities, etc. 211 keeps track of ALL kinds of services in western NC and (across the country).
Don’t be shy about building connections and asking for support, especially in times of change. And remember—it is often a gift to someone who cares about you to be asked for help.