The Importance of a Support System
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Some days you can meditate, take deep breaths, do all your calm down rituals, and still feel like your anxiety is too much to bear. Sometimes you can remind yourself that you are more than your mental health struggles, eat healthy, exercise, and still feel the weight of depression, making it difficult to get out of bed. This is where the importance of a support system comes into play and can be the help you need to make it through the day, get out of bed, and know you are not alone.
What is a support system?
A support system is simply a handful of people who are there for you; people that you can count on through the good and difficult to be a soundboard, a shoulder to cry on, or a reminder that you will make it through a difficult season. While the description of a support system is easy enough and sounds great, we understand that it can be challenging to know who to trust during hard days. So here are a few tips on what to look for when gathering a support system.
Building a Support System
Social contact and connections are essential. You may not always feel like socializing if you are having a bad day or week. Furthermore, the idea of spending time with people in itself may make you a little anxious (particularly if you're an introvert).
However, we are, at our core, social creatures.
That's why it's vital to set up a support system that you can reach out to in times of need.
Think about the people in your life with whom you are close. Who do you feel like gets you? Who understands your struggles, whether it be anxiety, depression, or any other mental health struggles? Who notices when you seem off before you say anything? Who gets you out of your head when your thoughts are racing? Who gets you out of the house when they know you need a change in scenery? If you have people in your life that do this, these are the kind of people that you want in your support system.
Here are a few other things to look for in building a support system:
People who remain close and aren't afraid of hard conversations.
People who put you at ease, make you feel safe, and allow you to be your authentic self at any moment.
People who understand you and know you through longevity in the relationship or have built trust through experiences together.
People who aren't afraid to tell you what you need to hear even if it's not what you want to hear.
People who live their life in a way that you want to live yours. They inspire you to be the best version of yourself through living into values of generosity, kindness, inclusion, for example.
The Importance of Having a Support System
We've talked in the past about how we can sometimes spiral into anxiety that is hard to break. When you are anxious and worried, it can start a cycle of being more anxious and worried. If you rely solely on yourself in those situations, it can be hard to get out of your head long enough to look at the situation objectively and realize that things aren't nearly as bad or scary as they may seem. This is the importance of a support system.
Having a group of people that can give you perspective to help stop the spiral is invaluable.
The unspoken message that, "you are not alone", is one that only a solid support system can give. This message can get you through the hardest of days. Tasks naturally don't feel as overwhelming when you know you have someone who will tackle them with you. In turn, the hard days don't have to feel as hard if you know you have someone walking with you through it.
They might not be able to fix everything but having someone to rely on through dark moments can be a bright spot.
What If You Don't Have a Support System?
You may be surrounded by family and friends and still feel lonely, like you don't have a support system. Maybe you aren't comfortable sharing your anxiety issues with them. Perhaps they aren't willing or in a position to provide you with the encouragement and support you need. Maybe they just don't get it. This can feel isolating, disappointing and take a toll on relationships. Finding a support group or even a person that struggles with the same things that you do can be a big help. Reach out and see what's available in your area. A therapist can be another key figure in your support system. If you are seeing a therapist right now, ask them for help to build out the rest of your support system.
Once you have a specific support system to help you through the hard days, please start thinking about what it would look like to change your expectations with your friends and family that cannot be a support system to you.
Can you accept the love that your family and friends are able to give to you without unrealistic expectations because you know you are getting the support you need elsewhere?
We know this is easier said than done, but once you can get to this place of acceptance with your relationships, we promise they will be the best they can be.
Finding people you can trust with the most challenging parts of life is no easy task. Like everything else, take it one step at a time. Start with small issues and see how people in your life handle those. If they hold them well and earn trust, give them a little more. Little by little, you will see trust grow and learn who can walk through the hard parts of life. The benefit of having a group of people is that responsibility doesn't fall on just one person. Surrounding yourself with a support system helps everyone involved because it will give you peace of mind knowing you have more than just one person to reach out to, and it doesn't put the entire weight on one person's shoulders.
Life can be hard; we weren't meant to do it alone. While it can feel scary, letting people in that want to help and support you is one of the best things you can do for your mental health.