Build Social Support - It's Good for Your HealthPeople today often struggle to keep up with the demands of daily life. In fact a recent national survey finds that one in three people in America are living with extreme stress. Stress can come from a heavy workload, daily traffic jams, dealing with a health problem or injury, taking care of someone who's ill, financial worries, relationship troubles, parenting, or major life transitions like moving or starting a family. Whatever the source, perhaps you cannot change the things that cause stress but you can improve how you deal with stress. Social support can help you get through stressful times by providing a sense of belonging, self-worth, and security.
Here are some tips to help you create, keep and strengthen connections in your life:
Make a short list of friends and family members who are supportive and positive. Also, include a list of people you feel the need to stay in touch with regularly such as parents, close friends , an adult child who lives far away, or an aging relative who lives alone.
Make a commitment to yourself to call, email or get together with them on a schedule that's reasonable for you.
Try to reach out to make at lease one emotional connection a day.
Share what's on your mind honestly and openly. Talk about your concerns in a straight-forward way, but try to keep it constructive. Try to be direct about what you need, for example a sympathetic ear, help solving a problem, a fresh perspective, new ideas or a good laugh. Don't hesitate to ask for help.
When you talk, also listen. Check on someone else's day. Listening to other people's concerns can often shed a new light on your own challenges. Offer help when you can. Ask what other people think about your situation, and show them you value their opinion-listen and respond.
Make social plans. Create opportunities to strengthen your relationships with fun things that both parties enjoy. Looking forward to special activities boosts our spirits, gives us energy and makes us more productive.
Even if you're so busy you don't have time to keep up with family and friends you already have, it doesn't take much time to make new friends. If you're shy and hesitant about meeting new people, just a few questions can get a conversation going. Think about neighbors you pass regularly, co-workers, people in your exercise class, a cousin you've lost touch with, or those who volunteer in the same organizations that you do. If you don't already have people you can talk with regularly about what's on your mind, it's worth the effort to build connections for your emotional mental health.
For more information you may contact the National Mental Health America Office at 1-800-969-6642 or log onto www.nmha.org.