The giving and receiving of social support is another key to resiliency. Social support is the term used to describe the emotional, physical and financial comfort we give to and receive from family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and others. One person is unlikely to be able to provide all the support we need, so it is important we have different people to call upon for the different challenges we aim to overcome.
Studies have time and again shown that resilient people are more likely to have strong social support than those less resilient. It has also been determined in military studies that those with higher resilience and social support post-deployment have decreased traumatic stress and depressive symptoms.
So who do you ask for support? Some people may have a fixed circle they’ve used for years whilst others turn to networking to enlist the help they need. Social support will always evolve over time and the resilient person is aware of this and will be clear about the traits they are looking for both in those they ask for assistance and when they provide it themselves.
The following are a few of the ways you could use to improve your social support network:
You may need to meet many new people before you make a new friend. And remember it takes time to build trust and intimacy. So be prepared to be patient and don’t expect or force things to change overnight.
Don’t assume people know what you need; you need to be specific and tell them. The same goes if you are offering support, you may need to ask what is required.
One analogy is to think of the life cycle of a plant. If you get a new plant, stick it in the ground, enjoy it when it flowers and do nothing else, unless nature helps out that plant will eventually wither and die. The same goes for keeping a relationship alive. You need to invest time to deepen and strengthen it if you want it to remain healthy.
Sad though it is some people may not be good for you (e.g. you may want to cut down on expensive nights out but a member of your network always insists you go out with them). Negative relationships can be obvious or more subtle (e.g. controlling or excessively dependent) and are worth avoiding as they can take a toll on your well-being. Obviously if it involves a family member or close friend this can be difficult but awareness is important and limiting the time you spend in their company whilst not relying on them for support may be worth trying.
Create opportunities to increase your support network by joining a new club or organisation where you might meet new people with similar interests or values to yourself.
Ask those you know to help you broaden your circle of contacts.
Keep In Touch:
You need to be a good friend to have a good friend; take care of your relationships, keep in touch, offer support when they need it and tell them you appreciate having them in your life.
This is one of a series of articles on aspects of resilience. You can access them all from this post Resilience Skills: An A-Z of definitions of the terms used.
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