What is a support network?
What is a support Network?
Your support network should contain people who you trust will be able to provide support for you in different situations. Sometimes that support is instrumental, providing you with something you might need like a cooked meal when you’re sick or too busy with study or work.
This support helps when you have an immediate need that can be met. Support can also be informational, these are the people you might turn to for advice, information or to help you make big decisions. This support helps when you’re stressed about problems or certain issues.
Sometimes the support is emotional, they can back you up when you need it or be a shoulder to cry on when things aren’t going well. This type of support is important when you’re stressed or feeling lonely.
All forms of social support can be important depending on your needs at the time. Support networks are best developed when things are going well for you and you have the capacity to build these relationships.
Why Are Support Networks Important?
Social support is thought to be incredibly beneficial to our overall well being. Having people you know you can trust can influence healthy behaviours (i.e. exercise), increase our ability to cope with stress and, increase our motivation.
Knowing that you have this support can be as beneficial as using the support. Supportive relationships, where appropriate, should be reciprocal.
Create Your Support Network
Think of up to 3 people you could turn to when times get tough, or maybe you’ve already experienced their support. If you can only think of one, that’s ok.
Next, we are going to set two goals on strengthening your support network. You can always add more goals at a later date through.
Support Network Goal no.1
Choose a person from your support network that you want to reinforce a reciprocal relationship with.
How are you going to reinforce this relationship?
Support Network Goal no.2
Good communication is a great way to build and reinforce your support. if someone has been there for you in the past, think of a small gesture or way that you can show your appreciation to them now.
Tips for managing your support network
1. The relationships you have within your support network should be respectful and reciprocal.
2. You don’t want to take advantage of anyone in your network and you don’t want to be taken advantage of either (check out our relationship guide to spot unhealthy relationships).
3. You can have different people who perform different types of support in your network. It can be rare to find one person who provides all the kinds of support you might need, cherish them!
4. However, try not to make one person all you need, it’s good to have a variety of people you can turn to.
5. Make sure you respect your support networks needs too, turning your attention from yourself to others can bring you joy and satisfaction which can bolster your well-being as well as theirs.
A Final Thought
Support networks are instrumental to your well-being and self-awareness, especially during difficult times. Knowing who you can turn to for the help you require in that moment can positively influence your well-being.
However, it’s important to build these relationships during the good times, when we have the energy and capacity to do so. Respect and reciprocation are key to healthy support networks. You should be willing to give back what you take when you can.