How important is peer support to you? Anyone who has experienced physical health problems knows that dealing with them can be mentally unsettling as well. Surgery, countless doctor’s appointments, prescription drug side effects, physical pain, having to depend on others for help, and trying to find a new daily routine are all typical components that affect your mental state and can lead to low morale. The opposite is true as well — a negative or dissonant psyche will often provoke or worsen physical symptoms. While keeping a positive attitude can do wonders, it’s much easier in theory than in practice and not many people are able to combat those negative thoughts that creep up at any given moment on their own.
So what can you do? Lean on your peers! Numerous studies make the argument that we are programmed to seek out relationships with other human beings. We don’t have to spend hours reading through the statistics to understand this, though; just take a look at current social trends. Wherever technology permits, social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) spreads like wildfire. Why? Because at a very basic level, humans crave connection with and recognition from other humans. While the salubrity of heavy use of online social media is debatable, face-to-face interaction is essential to our well-being, and here are some of the most important reasons why:
1 Comfort in Numbers
If you’ve been feeling alienated or like you no longer fit in with your usual crowd, seeking out people who have already endured what you’re going through can provide comfort. Even if your friends and family are well-intentioned and supportive, they simply can’t understand where you’re coming from unless they have been faced with the same situation. A peer support group offers confirmation that you’re not alone in this fight and that you can and will survive and even thrive again.
2 Education and Giving Back
Doctors can try to explain the science to you, but they most likely can’t relate to what you’re going through on a deeper level. People who have already navigated the waters can help you learn more about your condition from a practical, rather than scientific, perspective. Peers can share their firsthand experience right down to the nitty-gritty details. Once you start to find your groove, taking newbies under your wing can assist in keeping your spirits high as well. Giving back is always good for the soul!
3 Two (or more) Heads are Better Than One
Have you been racking your brain trying to sort out a nagging problem? Ping your peers about it! In most cases, groups are able to find answers faster and come up with more creative solutions than even the most intelligent member working alone. Each individual brings a unique perspective to the table based on their journey and background, laying the groundwork for a more thorough examination of the issue at hand. A team will almost always beat out a lone wolf.
Folks love to hang out, whether it be playing cards together, having coffee, catching a movie, or shooting hoops. Joining a peer support group is a great way to meet new people with whom you’re sure to have something in common, and new friendships are bound to form. Who couldn’t use a new buddy to call up when you’re itching to hit up that new restaurant or your favorite band comes to town?
Even if you’re more of an introvert and reaching out to others doesn’t come naturally, studies show that peer support groups can provide reassurance and help members battle negative feelings and even depression. Talk to your doctor about support programs in your area and give it a shot. Whatever your situation, don’t go it alone!
If you’ve been happy with the support Comfort Medical has given you throughout your journey as an ostomate, please spread the word to your new peers that we’re here to help!