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Peer Pressure: How It Affects You

How you eat, exercise, and feel is influenced by your friends.

Peer Pressure and Your Mood

Your friends' general attitude on life can rub off on you, and raise -- or dampen -- your mood. (To be fair, if they're bringing you down, they might not even be aware of it.) Sometimes it happens, says Stone, just because "people get kinda drained from being a part of the group -- trying to fit in, getting along. It can be exhausting."

Or it may have to do with the dynamics you and your friends share, or how good you all feel about yourselves. "If you're feeling down, you might surround yourself with people who aren't the most positive," says Ermer. "If they have their own emotional issues, they might be bringing you down to lift themselves up."

Tough Situation: You and your friends have fun by making fun of each other, which is hilarious -- until you're the subject of the trash-talking.

Low-Drama Solution: "Put yourself in the third person," says Ermer. "Ask yourself, 'Is that how I would treat someone else, without feeling bad?'" When something does happen that bothers you, "Say something about it, but without being angry, like 'I really don't appreciate your making fun of me,'" he suggests. A friend worth keeping will respect that.

Meanwhile, make a list of qualities you want and don't want in your friends (like "makes me laugh" or "a good listener"). If you find that your list doesn't match up with your current friends, brainstorm about where you can find more friends, maybe through a club or class that focuses on your interests. Maybe do something you've always wanted to try, like checking out a skateboarding park.

"Or, if you're not sure what to do, try charity work," suggests Ermer. "People who want to do things for other people tend to be very accepting. Doing something positive for other people will rub off on you, too."

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Reviewed on January 12, 2012

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