How to Build the Support System You Deserve
Humans are a social species – we rely on each other for survival. These days, support for our mental and emotional health is just as important as support for hunting and gathering for our ancestors. Whether or not you struggle with mental health, a solid support system can encourage you during difficult times, cheer you on when you’re winning at life, and sit with you when storms rage.
Having a solid social support network can improve your mental and physical health. Unfortunately, many people report finding it difficult to build or maintain a support system in today’s busy world. Sometimes people feel like giving up on finding the support they crave.
At SMPsychotherapy, we’re committed to helping you achieve overall wellness, and building a support system is part of that puzzle. This blog explains what a support system is and why it’s essential. Then, we give you practical tips for bolstering your support system if it’s currently lacking.
Definition of a Support System
A support system is more than just people to have social interactions with. A robust support system is a network of people you turn to for emotional, spiritual, and practical support. You may turn to them when you’re having a bad day and seek encouragement or a good laugh. If you’re feeling lost in life or questioning your faith, you may seek support from a spiritual group. If the support you need is more practical, such as help grocery shopping when you’ve broken a leg, you’ll need a different type of person.
A good support system comprises friends, family, coworkers, peers, mentors, school staff, church members, professional contacts, and more. You’ll get different types of support from family members than from friends, so it’s essential to have a variety of people in your circle.
You Deserve Support
Many feel they must be independent and not rely on others. They see dependence on others for anything from a hug to fixing a leaking faucet as a sign of weakness. While it’s true that people can become too dependent and create unhealthy relationship patterns, a healthy amount of dependence on others can improve emotional balance and satisfaction with work, relationships, and life.
Seeking support is not a weakness. It is a strength. Having the self-awareness to identify when you need to call on your support system means you’re committed to your personal growth journey.
Every person deserves support. You deserve emotional support when you feel like crying about a lost loved one. You deserve to have someone make you dinner when you’re too exhausted. You deserve professional support that allows you to achieve your dreams.
How Does a Support System Help?
People of every age, gender, and walk of life benefit from having a support system. Having a group of people you can call on when struggling with healthcare needs, emotional well-being, mental illness, or times of stress can help pull you through faster and with greater well-being.
Your support system may offer support in various ways, such as
- cooking meals
- coming over to sit with you and either talk or not
- driving you to medical appointments
- calling you just to check in
- helping you navigate a difficult professional interaction
- providing encouragement
- celebrating your successes.
A strong support system can help you by
- reducing stress
- improving decision-making ability
- improving your self-confidence
- reducing the severity of physical health conditions or helping you navigate them more easily
- improving your cardiovascular health.
Building or Strengthening Your Support System
Chances are you have at least some of the pieces of a good support system already in place. A social support system should include people you can call on for various needs. To build or strengthen your support system, evaluate your current relationships using these journaling prompts.
- Who can you text or call when you’re having a bad day?
- Who are the people you’d call if you have something to celebrate?
- Who can you ask to check in with phone calls if you’re having a difficult time?
- Who in your current network would be willing to step in with tasks like cooking, cleaning, or driving if you had a physical need? Would they also be able to support your emotional needs?
- Who could provide emotional support but not physical support?
- Who can support you through difficult work or school challenges?
- Who can support you if you need spiritual connection or guidance?
Evaluate your answers to these questions and determine what parts of your support system (physical, emotional, spiritual, professional) are strong and which areas you need more support available.
The strategies you use to fill in the gaps in your current support system will depend on where the gaps are. You might join a church mission where you can connect with people who share your faith if you need more spiritual support.
If you lack physical support – people who will show up and help with daily tasks if you are. It may be wise to have a conversation about this with your current friend group. Many of your friends may need similar support, and you can create an agreement about what types of support you need and how you can help.
If you lack emotional support, try reaching out to a loved one and letting them know you’re struggling. Don’t choose the family member who is likely to tell you to “suck it up”; instead, try someone you know can hold space for your struggles.
Find a mentor if you need more professional support or support at school. Mentors could be professors, bosses, or someone who works with you but has more experience. You can be honest and say, “I’m having trouble making decisions about ______ and could use support as I work through this. Would you be willing to be my mentor?”
Sometimes, creating a good support system starts with being a good support for others. Find ways to give emotionally or in practical ways to friends and family. Look for people at work or school who need assistance or a listening ear and offer to have lunch with them. You may be surprised how much support you get once you start giving.
A Therapist Can Help Build a Support System
At SMPsychotherapy and counseling services, our therapists can provide emotional, spiritual, and professional support. We can sit with you as you work through difficult emotions and help you process them.
Many of our providers offer faith-based counseling and can help you navigate times when you question your faith. If you’re struggling in school or work, we can help you uncover the reasons and make an action plan. Then, we will support you as you work through it. For people needing physical support, many of our providers have many connections to area resources that can help people get to doctor’s appointments, take care of household tasks, and more.
Our therapists can also guide you through building or strengthening your current support system by helping you evaluate where you currently stand and create a plan to get the support system you deserve. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment and learn more about building the support system you deserve.
Looking for More?
For more about how support systems impact our lives, get on the waitlist for the new book, Unbreakable, by Soribel Martinez, LCSW, CEO of SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services. The book releases in Spring 2023. It’s a story of one woman’s journey through adversity and how you can use her principles to build the life of your dreams. Join the waitlist here!