It’s a very simple question but oh how deep the effects of having a support system. Imagine taking the world on your shoulders and not having anyone else to share the load with. It can be the difference between positive mental health and negative mental health. When the stressors of daily life compound, a person needs an outlet or a place they can unload some of those stressors. While it is wonderful that many people meet with their therapists, all too often this is a one-hour meeting out of an entire week that consists of 168 hours. Take that and look at it on a grander scale and an average person that gets to meet with their therapist once a week, meets with that therapist for 4 – 5 hours a month that consists of 720 -744 hours. Out of a year, that person would meet with their therapist 52 hours, while the year would consist of 8,760 hours. That is far too much time to not have someplace else to lay one’s troubles and cares.
You might ask, how do I go about building a good support system. Members of your support system can come from all walks of life. They can be individuals with different races, ethnicities, religions, and much more diversity. A support system can consist of family members, friends, coworkers, or teachers, and can give a person a place where all the frustrations of the days, weeks, months, or even years, can be offloaded. A support system should consist of anyone that a person feels comfortable sharing very personal things with. Look for individuals with whom you feel you could discuss anything at all without the other person judging you. Have an open and honest conversation with that person about your need to be able to share very stressful and personal things. Having nonjudgmental people in your support system is of the utmost importance. These types of individuals can help you to offload the weight of the world in an environment where it feels safe to offload whatever stressors, difficulties, troubles, and traumas you have had to endure. Also look for shared interests and experiences. An example might be finding another mom who is also going through the stress of raising young children, or a coworker who has shared with you how difficult it has been to meet the current quota. Dig beneath the negative thinking, find the courage, and just reach out. You will be pleasantly surprised how many people want to be there for you and to help you through whatever difficulties you are going through.
Many people worry about sharing their troubles with another individual, as they worry that the other person might find them a burden. I invite you to think back to a time you had to care for a loved one who desperately needed your care, compassion, and helping hands, heart, and mind. There is a very big chance that you felt very good for getting to be there for another person who desperately needed your help, as they did not have the ability themselves to provide the comfort, caring, and compassion that you provided for themselves. Mental illness will often cause a person’s mind to send messages such as stay away from other people, they don’t know at all, what its like to be in your shoes. It is often at these times that a person can make the greatest progress in defeating negative thoughts like these by doing the opposite of what the thought is telling you. If the thought tells you to isolate, find some friends to hang out with. If the thoughts tell you not to talk to anyone else, find that nonjudgmental ear to tell your troubles too. If the thoughts tell you to stay in bed and sleep longer than is needed, get up and do something, make some goals and try to accomplish them. If thoughts tell you to draw the curtains and veg out in front of the TV, binge watching Netflix, get outside and take a walk with a friend or enjoy the sounds of nature by yourself.
The most important thing of all is finding the courage to reach out. There is a world of people out there just wanting to help you through the stresses and difficulties you experience. Use your best judgement and find people who you feel safe with. In today’s modern, technological world, a new friend and confidant can be just a phone call away. Look at yourself like a builder would look at a home. No good structure would feel safe and secure without proper supports in place. No good structure would be able to withstand harsh weather and stresses without proper supports in place. Do yourself a favor and decide today that you are going to put those proper supports in place.