Health & Medical Self-Improvement

Create a Support System for Greater Resilience

Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving; we grow stronger and more resilient.
~Steve Maraboli
Unexpected trials will always be a part of life...
a lost set of keys, the stress of a botched work assignment, or the heartache of a full-blown health or relationship crisis.
When the going gets tough, it helps to be able to talk to someone you trust - someone to ease the burden and help you regain perspective - that's where having a strong support network in place can make a huge difference.
What is a support network? A support network is made up of a group of friends, family and peers that has been grown over time, ideally during periods when you're not under stress.
There are many benefits associated with having a support network, just one of which is that studies have shown this to be a prime factor in achieving greater resilience in life.
For better or worse, most of us come by whatever support system we have in place by default.
However, regardless of your current situation, you can begin today to cultivate a strong support system for the future...
and it may surprise you to know that there is no "one size fits all" model...
everyone's support system will look a little different.
In life you will realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.
Some will test you.
Some will use you.
Some will teach you.
But most important are the ones that bring out the best in you.
Those are the ones worth keeping around.
~Author Unknown
Your support network may include any or all of the following:
  • Professional/personal mentors
  • Professional development and networking organizations
  • Professional or skills-based teachers, instructors or trainers
  • Work/life balance, business or career coach
  • Professional peers/colleagues
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Neighbors
  • Babysitting and child care co-ops (start one in your neighborhood or city)
  • Child care providers (day care, Mother's Day Out programs, sitting or nanny services, child care co-ops, list of babysitters, etc.
    ) and pediatricians
  • Social groups; creative or book/hobby groups; activities just for women or moms
  • Therapist, counselor and/or support groups
  • Spiritual mentors/groups or community
  • Financial consultants or advisers
  • Online support communities
What to know about growing your support network:
  • Everyone's support system will look different: Remember this is about what you need to feel fully supported at your current life stage.
  • Your support system will change: Life is always changing and evolving, as will your needs for a support system depending on your life stage, current needs and the ages of your children and parents (if you're involved in their care).
  • Choose friends or colleagues you admire: Enlist the support of those whose lives reflect the values and beliefs you admire.
  • Your support system may or may not include your family: It's not uncommon for people to find it difficult, even undesirable to enlist their family as part of their support network.
    There's nothing to feel guilty about if this is the case for you; after all this is your support system.
  • Determine how you will connect with your support system on a regular basis: Start by keeping a list of phone numbers you keep in your purse, by your computer, on a bulletin board at home, etc.
    It is often reassuring to have these names/numbers at arm's reach.
Don't mistake independence for never needing help.
In our quest to be independent, self-sufficient, and successful, we often avoid the very thing we most need to do - ask for help.
When you find yourself stuck, struggling, overwhelmed, or afraid, what is your first line of action? Do you ask for the help you need or do you say to yourself: Everyone is really busy; they couldn't possible have time to help...
If I ask for help, it'll appear that I can't do everything on my own, and I'm not willing to be that vulnerable...
Unfortunately some people are simply unwilling to ask for help even when things get too rough for them to navigate life alone.
It may be out of fear of losing control, embarrassment, or maybe they've suffered a betrayal and sworn never to trust again...
On the issue of trust...
Unfortunately, betrayal happens to each of us at some point in our lives.
The reality is we humans are complex and we each come with the baggage of previous hurts, fears or losses and, despite the best of intentions, sometimes we will fail each other.
The key to overcoming trust issues is to go slowly, and to accept that none of us have all the answers.
Also, try to keep in mind that trust is not an all or nothing thing, but rather should be earned in stages, according to what others have demonstrated to you about themselves - not only through words, but their actions.
A strong social support network can be critical to help you through the stress of tough times, whether you've had a bad day at work or a year filled with loss or chronic illness...
it's never too late to begin cultivating these important relationships.
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