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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Importance of Support

Who do you turn to during times of need? Who do you celebrate important events with? Who do you call when you are stressed out? And lastly, who do you call when you simply just want to talk? Regardless of your answer to each question, the answer is the same....the person that you call or turn to is part of your support network. A support network is an informal group of people we assemble during our lives, whom we participate in a reciprocal relationship with, sharing information, support, advice, guidance, good news, and celebrations. A support group is different from a support network in that it is typically a formal group of people, with a leader (either the group leader or a mental health therapist), that meet at a specific day and time, for the purpose of discussing a specific issue.

Support networks are beneficial to our overall mental and emotional health. By having a positive support network, studies have shown that it can help improve our self-esteem. Our support networks can improve our sense of belonging, self-worth, and feeling of security, knowing we have people that we can turn to. There are many places you can look, if you are trying to build or strengthen your current support network. Listed below are just a few:

-Family - try to focus on family members who can reciprocate a positive and healthy relationship
-Friends
-Church
-Volunteer - volunteering is a great way to meet people who share similar interests as you
-School/work
-Join a league or group - bowling and softball leagues are popular ways to meet new people

However you assemble your support network, the key is that you must be sure to cultivate your relationships. Remember your support network is not only there for times of need, but also in daily life and times of celebration. Stay in touch with your support network, call someone, go out to dinner or coffee. Make sure that you return the support to the people in your network, do not only contact them during your times of need, be there for them, and be a good listener. And finally, be sure to let the people in your support network know how much you care for and appreciate them. A sincere thank you goes a long way. By building and maintaining your positive healthy support network, you will also be strengthening and building your mental and emotional health.

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