Having a strong social support system is vital for reaching optimal health and well-being. People in your social circle can provide a sense of belonging, comfort you during your low points and cheer you on during your high points. However, the level of support you may need or that you are able to access may change or even dwindle over time. Here’s how to continually replenish and strengthen your network:
Cast a wide net. Stay open to opportunities to develop various levels of support,includingfrom neighbors, parents at your child’s school, colleagues, and other acquaintances. Not all connections will develop into deep, lifelong friendships, but they are still valuable in providing a degree of camaraderie and emotional aid.
Make it a two-way street. Building a support system requires that you give support as well as receive it. Be a good listener.
Join social meetup groups and professional organizations. Whether in-person or online, aim to build connections slowly with other participants. Don’t give up on the group too early–it takes time to forge alliances.
Volunteer. Working side-by-side with another person to help those in need or make the world a better place can be a profoundly rewarding shared experience. It’s a great chance to build your social circle for YOUR betterment!
Take classes or workshops in a new area of interest. Learning something outside your comfort zone and conquering any fears, whether it’s Salsa steps, paddleboarding, painting, or computer programming skills, is a great confidence booster! Plus, sharing the experience of overcoming challenges with another participant may turn into a meaningful bond that extends beyond the learning environment.
Don’t forget animal bonds! A pet can give you boundless comfort and affection while also opening you up to align closely with fellow pet lovers/owners, or those who help rescue or rehabilitate animals.
Struggling with loneliness and stress? Talk to your health practitioner for a referral to a qualified counselor. Or contact a professional counselor yourself who can provide coping strategies to feel better.