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Involving your friends and family as a part of your care team

Daughter hugging mom on couch

How often do you talk with medical professionals? Probably nowhere near as often as you talk with family and friends. That’s why the people closest to you should be part of your honorary care team. They can provide positive feedback, influence, and inspiration when it comes to improving everyday healthy practices and habits, or even beating an illness.

Sometimes, it’s easier to be accountable to others rather than ourselves, which is why having a supportive community is so effective for breaking bad habits and building healthy ones. It also makes health and wellness collaborative—you can embark on new routines and practices together, whether jogging with a neighbour or attending an exercise class with a co-worker.

Having a social support network is also a huge benefit for mental health and wellbeing. Your family and friends help you through times of stress or loss to help you build resilience and sometimes, the people around us are the first to notice when we’re struggling before we’ve acknowledged it ourselves.

It’s no wonder, then, that including loved ones as part of your care team can lead to better overall health, a strong sense of personal wellbeing, and even a longer life expectancy.

Health isn’t just individual—it’s social as well.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. But medically speaking, we should have a “village,” or a supportive community, to help us feel our best.

We can attribute over 80% of our health and wellbeing to social factors. Known as “social determinants of health,” they can encompass everything from family relationships, nutrition, and early childhood experiences to education, income, and housing.

But beyond these factors, just having people in your life improves your health outlook and outcomes. Studies have shown that from a health and wellness perspective, loneliness can be as costly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. That’s why it’s so important to involve friends and family in your care team—and here are some suggestions for how to do that.

3 ways to include your community in your preventative care.

A care team isn’t a formal commitment. It simply includes those trusted people with whom you confide about your health situations and aspirations so that you can turn to them when you need advice, assistance, or affirmation.

1. Gather a group united by a common set of goals.

Connect with other people who are trying to achieve similar health objectives, which provides great motivation. You can even foster a sense of fun, playful competition with your friends—for example, comparing steps on your pedometer.

TELUS Health Wellbeing is one of a variety of apps focused on health and wellbeing that allows you to complete a health assessment, access resources and content, and connect with family, friends, and a community of peers who can cheer you on. 

2. Be upfront about what you envision for your health.

Tell your loved ones your health objectives. Even this simple act can boost your sense of accountability. By telling them about your needs and goals, you can help them support you better—for example, asking them to keep sugary snacks off the grocery list if you’re trying to eat a healthier diet.

3. Serve as part of the care team for your community.

Medical practitioners sometimes use “social prescriptions” such as community engagement or volunteering for worthy causes—whether it’s serving food at a soup kitchen, spending time with senior citizens, or welcoming visitors at a local museum—to proactively address causes of physical or mental illness. That’s because they understand that connecting with people and giving back can bring multiple health benefits. As a matter of fact, health professionals often prefer the term “mutual aid” when referring to volunteering because helping others can improve mood and self-worth, reduce stress, relieve high blood pressure, and lower the risk of heart disease.

When it comes to effective care, access is everything.

The best self-care doesn’t happen alone. Involving people you love and trust is one of the greatest ways to show compassion for yourself and stay accountable to your health goals.

When you require specialist advice and services, however, connecting to a network of healthcare professionals anytime and anywhere is critical. Friends and family can help a lot, but virtual care lets you fill the gaps and get the expert support you need, when you need it.

To find out more about the ways TELUS Health Virtual Care can support your physical and mental wellbeing, login to your portal here.