We all need support from different people and different networks all through our lives. As a child that could be your family and relatives. In high school, this group may include family members, friends, and teachers. As we get older this could be family, friends, self help groups and other supportive relationships.
A supportive network refers to the people in your life that help you achieve your personal and professional goals. It is important to surround ourselves with family and friends for support and comfort in both times of joy and distress. Studies have shown that having supportive relationships is a strong protective factor against mental illness and helps to increase our mental well-being.
Not all of us have these supportive networks in so if you do not have one, how can you build it because it is never too late to do so. Here are some ideas that can help you strengthen your support network:
1- Make time for old friends- The friends you have known for years are most likely to support you unconditionally, whether or not you have spent a lot of time together over the years.
2- Carve out time every week to say hi-with your friends and family, time to grab a drink, watch a game together. You don’t have to commit a lot of time if you are overloaded, but you do have to give some work free time if you want your friends and family to be there when you need them.
3- Be bold about reaching out- to friends, family, groups of people with similar interests. Don’t always wait for people to reach out to you.
4- Accept it will take effort – you have to make an effort. No one is going to do it for you. Friendships and relationships have to be give and take or people do not bother.
5- Accept you will not be comfortable- You will have to push yourself. Make changes. It is easier to do nothing but more worthwhile to try.
6- Accept it will take time- You are not going to become a social butterfly overnight. Small changes. Perseverance. Keep trying and then try some more. Good relationships takes time.
7- You need multiple relationships- It is not fair to ask one person to help all the time. Partners, friends, family, colleagues, medical professionals, support groups, social clubs, study groups, sporting groups etc. The list is huge.
8- Finally be honest- People respond well to honesty.