Relationships are important and at times you must depend on them. It is important to value the relationships you have with the people around you. They may include family, friends, or people you know casually. Your social network does not have to be large. One or two close family members or friends may be all you need to feel supported and valued. Whether your social network is big or small, the important thing is that you are there for each other.
Providing support is just as important as receiving support. You should depend on others for support, but others should feel comfortable depending on you. Ask others about their families, jobs, and interests, and help them when you can. You should not always focus on your challenges or talk about yourself. Know when it is time to listen or just enjoy the company of others.
If you suffer from depression, social support and strong relationships are even more important and can be an essential part of your recovery. When a person suffers from depression, they live with constant despair. Every moment hurts and the truth about life remains elusive. When we feel these dark feelings, there is a natural tendency to retreat and isolate ourselves. But this only makes the dark darker.
Recovery from depression is a complex process but you do not need to go through it alone. By surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones, you can continue to feel genuine connections, and each one of those connections is a light that can pierce through the darkness.
Research suggests there is a definite link between relationships and many different aspects of a person’s mental health and wellness. It is for this reason that mental health professionals often discuss the importance of having a strong social network and social support.
Social support comes in many different forms. Sometimes you might need help with daily tasks if you are struggling with depression. Sometimes you may need an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes you may need some sound advice.
Whatever you may be going through and whatever kind of help you need, here are some ways you can build a support network of people that love and care about you.
1. Create a List
Make a shortlist of friends and family members who have shown their love, kindness, and support in the past.
2. Make a Commitment
Commit to reaching out to someone on your list every week (if not more). You can do this through a phone call, text, email, or in person.
3. Be Honest
The people that love you can only help and support you if you are honest with them. When you reach out, share what is on your mind and heart. Talk openly about any struggles you are dealing with and be sure to be open to other viewpoints or advice.
4. Get Out and Socialize with Others When Possible
With COVID still affecting our lives, it is not always easy to get out and be social in person but doing so is remarkably helpful and healing for our mental health. Phone calls and emails work in a pinch, but nothing beats spending time with loved ones and friends in person.
It is also important to mention that sometimes we need a bit more help than our loved ones can give. If, after forming your support network, you feel that you need additional help, it is important to reach out to a mental health specialist. He or she can give you tools and strategies that will help you recover from depression. For information on managing and coping with depression, check out the books below.