We all need people. We need someone to lean on, to confide in, and to share our joys and sorrows with. However, building a healthy support system can be challenging, especially in today's fast-paced and often isolating world. In the age of social media, we may have thousands of online connections but lack true, meaningful relationships. The COVID-19 pandemic has also made it more challenging to socialize and connect with others, leaving many of us feeling lonely and disconnected.
But building a strong support system is crucial to our well-being, and it's worth the effort. Research has shown that having social support can improve physical health outcomes, lower stress levels, and increase overall life satisfaction.1
So how can you build a healthy support system?
Here are some tips to get you started.
What is a Support System?
A healthy support system is a network of individuals who provide emotional, physical, and sometimes financial support. These individuals can be family members, friends, colleagues, or acquaintances with similar interests or values.
It's important to note that a healthy support system is not just about having many people in your life. Instead, it's about having a network of people who are supportive, trustworthy, and caring. These individuals will listen to you, offer guidance and advice, and provide a sense of belonging and connection.
Types of Personal Support Systems
There are three types of personal support systems: emotional, social, and professional.
Emotional support refers to the people who provide comfort and understanding during stress or crisis. For example, if you're going through a tough breakup or dealing with a family crisis, these people will be there to lend an ear and offer support.
Social support includes the people who provide companionship, advice, and practical help with day-to-day activities. These are the people you can turn to for a fun night out, help with errands, or advice on a tough situation.
Professional support refers to the people who provide guidance and assistance in your career or personal growth. These people can help you level up in your career, provide mentorship, or offer advice on personal growth.
Steps to Building a Support System
Building a healthy support system isn't always easy. It takes effort, time, and sometimes vulnerability. These steps can help:
Step 1: Figure out who's already in your corner.
List the people who respect you and make you feel confident and upbeat. These people are already in your corner and can be part of your support system. Stay connected with them through phone calls, texts, and emails, and tell them how important they are to you.
Step 2: Embrace shared interests.
To build your support system, look for like-minded souls in your community. Join a gym or sports team, volunteer, sign up for a class or hobby group, or start a book club. These are great ways to build connections and friendships with people who share your passions and values.
Step 3: Expand your professional connections.
Networking with people in your field who can offer advice and guidance can be an excellent way to build your professional support system. You might even find a mentor who can help you level up in your career!
Step 4: Seek professional guidance when you need it.
A therapist or counselor can be your secret weapon in the fight against life's challenges. They can help you uncover weaknesses and serve as a valuable part of your personal support system.
Building a healthy support system takes time and effort, but the benefits are immeasurable. With the right people in your corner, you'll be better equipped to navigate life's challenges and experience the joys of true connection and belonging.
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- Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 310–357.