What is Peer Pressure?
Peer pressure is the influence exerted by a peer group or individual, encouraging or compelling other people to change their behavior, values, beliefs or attitudes. It is a psychological phenomenon that individuals are exposed to as they grow up.
How Peer Pressure Can Lead to Addiction and Health?
It is widely known that peer pressure is often a contributing factor to the development of certain types of addictive behaviors. When an individual’s peer group is socially promoting activities and attitudes focused on substance or alcohol use, there is a greater risk that that individual may engage in those behaviors. Additionally, social pressure from peers can encourage an individual to act dangerously such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol. This type of behavior is especially common among teenagers and young adults when trendy substances, parties or physical activities tend to dominate the youth culture.
The effects of peer pressure often go beyond substance abuse. For example, peers may push an individual to take part in unhealthy habits such as smoking or extreme dieting. An individual may also be influenced by their peers to neglect their own values, beliefs, or school or family obligations.
The Impact of Peer Pressure on Mental Health
It is not uncommon to see an individual’s mental health deteriorate when they are regularly exposed to peer pressure. When decisions are centered around pleasing others rather than prioritizing their values and personal interests, their mental health can suffer. Common mental health issues that can arise from peer pressure include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and eating disorders.
What To Do In The Face of Peer Pressure
It is important for individuals to take proactive steps in order to protect themselves from the negative impacts of peer pressure. Here are a few tips to practice:
- Be mindful of who your friends are. Try to connect with individuals or groups that share similar goals, values and interests.
- Be proactive. Make sure to not wait to be asked to participate in activities. It is important to stay active by participating in activities of your own interest.
- Recognize your boundaries. Strong interpersonal boundaries are essential in protecting you from peer pressure. Know your limits in terms of what you are willing to do, say or participate in.
- Build a support system. Connect with people that can provide emotional support. It is helpful to have a few trusted individuals to confide in and talk to in the face of peer pressure.
Peer pressure can have an ultimately have significant negative impacts on an individual’s physical and mental health. Nevertheless, it is possible to create positive peer relationships that can help an individual to grow, have positive experiences and embrace their own values and interests.
By following the tips discussed above, individuals can protect themselves from the negative impacts of peer pressure and create an environment where positive and healthy relationships are fostered.