|Articles / Linda
Dessau / Build Your Social Support
Build Your Social Support Network
By Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach
A social support network is a group of people who you can count on to support
you. They may be the first people you call when something upsetting has happened,
when you have a difficult decision to make, or when you have fantastic news
to share. Some of the people in your social support network might be professionals
and support you in very specific ways (i.e. your family doctor or your life
coach), and other people in your network you might live with or be in contact
with every day.
First, let's talk about why social support is important and why it matters
to your self-care. Research has shown that a lack of social support (isolation)
can contribute to an ongoing state of chronic stress, which will negatively
impact your immune system and put you at risk for dangerous conditions.
Now, what can strengthening your social support network do for you? Social
support can improve the functioning of your immune system, protecting you from
disease, and it can increase your vitality, decrease your stress and improve
What Makes a Social Support Network Solid?
STRENGTH — Make sure that you're not counting on
one or two people to provide all the support you need. That can be hard on
them, and on
you (if they're
suddenly unable to be there for you). Reach out regularly to several people.
VARIETY — Similarly, having many people in your support
network gives you access to their different skills, perspectives and experiences.
COMMON GROUND — If you're dealing with a particularly difficult challenge
or have a very specific goal, then finding and regularly interacting with others
in the "same boat" can have extremely beneficial results. Whether
it's finding out how others have handled a situation, or sharing some of
your experience, groups like this can be a great boost to your self-care
SOMETHING TO REACH FOR —- Make a point of building
or strengthening your relationships with people who inspire, encourage and
support you, and who empower you to
grow and to be your best self. For instance, someone who is very committed
to his or her own self-care will inspire you to make positive self-care
choices. And someone who is very loving and supportive will help you to feel
5 Ways to Nurture Your Support Network
- Call or write when things are good as well as when they're not. Sharing
your gratitude and appreciation can help to deepen your relationships and
will also intensify your good feelings.
- Be open to new people. You never know when someone new is going to come
into your life or the unique gifts they will bring. I believe that sometimes
we're meant to connect with certain people only briefly — so instead
of thinking, "I
don't have time for a new friend," go with your heart and get curious
about what you can learn from interacting with this person.
- Offer to help. Whether it's people you know or people you haven't met
yet (i.e. through a volunteer position), helping others can be a wonderful
for your own self-care. AND remember that YOUR self-care still comes first!
- Live by the Four Agreements, as created by Don Miguel Ruiz — Be impeccable
with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions
and always do your best. For more information about the Four Agreements,
- If you don't feel like talking to anyone, talk to someone. Sometimes
we choose to be isolated. It can be really difficult to reach out when we
like this. Do it anyway.
It's important to remember that your social relationships can also have a
negative impact on your self-care. Unspoken truths, unintentional sabotage,
or continuously taking on the role of care-giver can all add stress and affect
your commitment to self-care.
So instead, nourish your positive relationships and keep your social support
network strong and working for you. •
© Copyright 2005, Genuine Coaching Services. 03/07/05
About the Author | More by Linda Dessau
Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, helps artists enhance their creativity by addressing their unique self-care issues. Feel like your creativity is blocked? Sign-up for the free e-course, "Roadblocks to Creativity" by visiting www.genuinecoaching.com.