A social support network is a group of people that you can depend on to support you. They may be the first people you call when something upsetting has happened, when you’ve got a tricky choice to make, or when you have great news to share.
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Some of the people in your social support network may be professionals and encourage you in very specific ways (i.e. your family physician or your own life coach), and other individuals in your network you may live with or be in contact with each day. First, let’s discuss why social support is important and why it matters to your self-care.
Research indicates that a lack of social support (isolation) may give rise to an ongoing state of chronic anxiety, which will negatively affect your immune system and put you at risk for dangerous conditions. Now, what can strengthening your social support system do for you? Social support can enhance the functioning of your immune system, protecting you from disease, and it may increase your energy, reduce your stress and enhance your self-esteem.
WHAT MAKES A SOCIAL SUPPORT NETWORK SOLID?
- STRENGTH – Make certain you’re not counting on a couple of people to provide all of the support you want. That may be hard on them, and on you (if they are suddenly unable to be there for you). Reach out regularly to a number of men and women.
- VARIETY – Similarly, having many people in your support network provides you access to their different skills, experiences and perspectives.
- COMMON GROUND – If you are dealing with a particularly tough challenge or have a very specific purpose, then locating and frequently interacting with other people in the”same boat” could have extremely favorable outcomes. Whether it’s finding out how others have handled a circumstance, or sharing some of your expertise, groups such as this can be an excellent boost to your self-care program.
- SOMETHING TO REACH FOR – Make a point of building or strengthening your relationships with those who inspire, encourage and support you, and that enable you to develop and to be your very best self. As an example, someone who’s very committed to their own self-care will motivate you to make positive self-care choices. And someone who’s very loving and supportive will enable you to feel great about yourself.
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- Call or write when things are great as well as when they are not. Sharing your appreciation and gratitude can help deepen your relationships and will also intensify your good feelings.
- Be open to new individuals. You never know when someone new will come into your life or the distinctive gifts they will bring. I feel that sometimes we’re supposed to connect with certain individuals only briefly – so rather than thinking, “I do not have time to get a new friend,”, go with your heart and get curious about what you could learn from interacting with this person.
- Offer to help. Whether it’s people you know or people you have not met yet (i.e. via a volunteer position), helping others can be an excellent boost for your self-care. AND keep in mind your self-care still comes first!
- Live from the Four Agreements, as created by Don Miguel Ruiz – Be impeccable with your word, do not take anything personally, do not make assumptions and always do your best. 5. If you do not feel like talking to anybody, talk to somebody.
Sometimes we choose to be isolated. It can be really tricky to reach out when we feel like this. It’s important to not forget that your social relationships may also have a negative influence on your self-care. Unspoken truths, unintentional sabotage, or always taking on the part of care-giver can add stress and affect your devotion to self-care. So instead, nourish your positive relationships and maintain your social support network strong and working for you.