About Maintaining Social Health
Friends can be both a blessing and a curse. Having friends is crucial for maintaining your social health. However, depending on who you decide to befriend, friends can also negatively impact your health in many ways. Three ways your friends might impact your health negatively is through influencing food choices, pressuring you into trying drugs, or by encouraging you to try dangerous/risky things that you normally would never do.
This first way friends can negatively impact your health is by impacting your food choices. It’s well known that what you eat affects your physical health which ties back into the other six dimensions of health. According to a study done by researchers at the University of Minnesota, “…participants who ate with restricting friends also continued to restrict their eating when alone.” If your friend has unhealthy eating habits such as eating too much, eating too little, eating unhealthy foods, or some combination of these, you are more likely to pick up these habits. If you do end up picking one of these harmful habits, that will negatively affect your physicall health which in turn will affect the other aspects of your health.
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Another way friends can negatively impact your health is by pressuring you into trying drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and other harmful substances. According to a survey of high-schoolers across America conducted by CBS, 75% of those surveyed said that seeing their peers and friends partake in drugs and alcohol encourages them to do the same. However, the actual number of teens who are under the influence of this peer pressure is most likely even higher as many probably wouldn’t want to admit or don’t realize that they are constantly being pressured to try harmful substances. This pressure is not only directly harmful to your intellectual and physical health as it increases your risk to try harmful substances, but it is also directly harmful to your emotional health as the constant pressure to partake in these activities can cause feelings of anxiety and stress, especially if you attempt to mentally resist it.
The pressure to try drugs and alcohol is not the only way peer pressure can negatively impact your health. Friends can also negatively impact your health by influencing you to try dangerous/risky things that you normally would never do. According to psychologist Laurence Steinberg, “adolescents and young adults take more risks than any other age groups”. This risk-taking issue is only exacerbated by peer pressure, as being around others might encourage you to take more risks than you normally would when you are by yourself, with family, or with colleagues. This increased risk-taking increases your chances of sustaining an injury or getting in trouble, both of which negatively affect your health.
There are many ways your friends can negatively affect your health. The three most prevalent ways this happens is through impacting your food choices, pressuring you into trying drugs, or by influencing you into trying dangerous/risky things that you normally would never do. However, despite this, friends are also crucial in maintaining your social health and can directly affect your other dimensions of health positively. The most effective way you can make sure your friends don’t negatively affect your health is by not hanging out with the “wrong crowd” and by fostering positive relationships with your friends.
- Howland, Maryhope, et al. “Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Cookies: Effects of Restrictive Eating Norms on Consumption among Friends.” Appetite, Science Direct, 5 July 2012, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666312002255.
- Jaslow, Ryan. “Survey: ‘Digital Peer Pressure’ Fueling Drug, Alcohol Use in High School Students.” CBS News, CBS, 22 Aug. 2012, www.cbsnews.com/news/survey-digital-peer-pressure-fueling-drug-alcohol-use-in-high-school-students/.
- Steinberg, Laurence. “A Social Neuroscience Perspective on Adolescent Risk-Taking.” Developmental Review : DR, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2396566/.