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"Unleash the Healing Power of Social Support: How Family and Friends Can Boost Your Mental Health"

Updated: Dec 8, 2023



How can reaching out to family and friends improve your mental health?


The role family and friends play in supporting your mental health

We, as humans, require a variety of positive interactions and connections to properly function and thrive in our environments. However, when things get tough, we naturally withdraw from our families and friends, isolating ourselves in an attempt to feel better. For most people, this is when they're dealing with mental health issues, and they may feel like they're a burden and find it hard to accept or seek help. Although trying to feel better, isolation only pushes people away, and you risk losing precious relationships which can help us heal and improve our mental health. Having mental health issues may be hard to admit, but you'd be surprised how supportive your loved ones are given the chance to support you through tough times.



Maintaining positive mental health often requires making an effort to maintain positive relationships with one's family and friends. It is necessary to have the understanding that problems with one's mental health are extremely frequent, and that asking for assistance from other people can be an important first step towards feeling better.


Sometimes, all that's needed to ease negative thoughts and sentiments is a simple conversation with a trusted friend or loved one. It can be helpful to talk about how you're feeling with a friend or family member who is ready to take the time to listen and offer encouragement.

When reaching out to family and friends for assistance, it is essential to bear in mind that doing so does not indicate a lack of strength on your part. When we are feeling overwhelmed or down in the dumps, it is essential for us to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves and reaching out for assistance when we do so.


Making an effort to maintain contact with one's relatives and friends is one strategy for constructing a network of support for oneself. Maintaining open lines of communication with those who are important to you can facilitate the development of deeper connections and make it simpler to ask for assistance when it is required.



Participating in activities with family and friends that you and they both take pleasure in is yet another strategy to bolster the quality of these relationships. When you're going through a tough time, it can be difficult to talk about how you feel or ask for support from others. However, participating in activities that are entertaining and interesting can help build a sense of community and trust, which can make it easier to do both of those things.


Keep in mind that while you are dealing with issues related to your mental health, it is essential to have a support network consisting of individuals who care about you and want the best for you. If you want to enhance your mental health and create stronger relationships that can provide support and comfort when times are tough, reaching out to family and friends can help.




Tap into your social support system

Tapping into your social support system has been proven to help lessen the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and low mood. We're not saying you need to plan a bust day out; invite your best friend round for a coffee, and having a catch-up will really help boost your mood.


We as humans are social beings, and as such, our social support network is critical to the maintenance of our general health and happiness. It has been demonstrated that making use of this support system can have a variety of positive effects on our mental health. Reaching out to friends and family can be an important step towards recovery for individuals who are battling mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD.


When we are having difficulty, it is not always simple to reach out for help. It's possible that we worry about becoming a burden to those around us, or that we're afraid of being judged. Nevertheless, it is critical to keep in mind that the people who make up our social support system care about us and are eager to assist us. To perk us up, all it takes some of the time is a straightforward request to do something like get some coffee or catch up with old friends.




Oxytocin is a hormone that is related to sentiments of bonding, connection, and trust. When we spend time with the people we care about, our brains release oxytocin, which causes these sensations. These positive sentiments help to battle the bad feelings that are associated with anxiety, despair, and feeling down in the dumps.


Spending time with other people not only has the potential to bring emotional advantages but may also provide a sense of perspective. When we're in a tough spot, it might be challenging to see above our own issues and see the bigger picture. Conversations with loved ones and close friends can provide us with new perspectives, which in turn can lead to novel ideas and approaches to resolving problems.


It is imperative that we construct and keep up strong connections with those who are a part of our social support system.


This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including the following:


  • Making sure to schedule time for consistent catch-ups

  • Participating in activities or pursuits that are enjoyed in common

  • Participating in community service as a volunteer

  • Participating in Clubs and Groups

  • Providing assistance to loved ones when they face their own challenges

It is essential that we keep in mind that we are not the only ones going through the difficulties that we are. At some point in their lives, everyone will be forced to endure trying circumstances. Utilizing the resources of our social support network can be of great assistance to us during trying times. These resources can provide us with emotional support as well as the perspective we need to conquer obstacles and preserve excellent mental health.




"The purpose of our being and the thing that gives our life their meaning and direction is to form connections with one another. Confirming the importance that connection plays in our lives was the realisation that our primary concern regarding connection is the fear of disconnection. This fear stems from the belief that something we have done or failed to do, some aspect of who we are or where we come from, has rendered us unlovable and unworthy of connection. This realisation demonstrates the power that connection possesses in our lives." - Professor Brené Brown



Acknowledge what your going through

Sometimes we need a big hug and for someone to say "I understand" instead of trying to offer solutions for our troubles. During hardships, knowing that someone is making an effort to see things from your perspective, rather than judging us or trying so hard to fix what's wrong with us, will make us feel less alone with our pain.


One of the first steps in getting help from others is admitting that you need it. When you're worried about being misunderstood or criticized, opening up about your troubles to others is hard. Nonetheless, keep in mind that your ability to feel and show emotion is a strength, not a weakness.


It would be best if you had remembered someone to listen to you while you're going through a challenging period without passing judgment or offering answers. Having someone who can say "I get it" while you're feeling down can be invaluable. Having this acknowledged can make you feel validated and less isolated.


It's also good to keep in mind that it's normal for not everyone to be able to provide the help you require. It's helpful to talk to someone you trust, whether a family member, close friend, or a trained mental health professional.


As well as reaching out to friends and family for help, it's crucial to accept your situation and allow yourself to experience the full range of your feelings. It's common to want to ignore or downplay negative feelings, but doing so might make them much harder to handle in the future. Simply by allowing yourself to experience whatever it is you're feeling and accepting that's how you feel, you can start to find relief.


In the grand scheme of things, admitting that you have a problem is a crucial first step in getting help and keeping your mental health in check. Sharing your suffering with others can be challenging, but doing so demonstrates fortitude, and connecting with someone who understands your experience can make you feel less isolated.




Boost emotional and mental well-being.

Being surrounded by people who care about us boosts our self-esteem and well-being. It increases our sense of belonging and safety. Knowing that we are loved and people are there for us helps us take small steps in the right direction to improve our mental health.


You can't put a price on good mental and emotional health, and it's impossible to exaggerate the value of having supportive friends and family. A person's happiness and sense of self-worth are directly influenced by the quality of their connections with family, friends, and a significant other. It's much simpler to take proactive measures to enhance one's mental health when one feels loved and encouraged.


Those who have many friends and a fulfilling social life tend to be happier and more fulfilled overall. Feeling secure in one's social group can have a significant impact on one's mental health and outlook on life. When we know we have individuals to lean on in times of difficulty, we gain the confidence to go after our aspirations and goals.


In addition, the symptoms of mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and stress can be reduced with the help of social support. Loneliness and isolation can be lessened when we have someone to talk to, share our experiences with, and be heard by. Knowing that one is not alone in their distress can be a source of strength and solace that aids in the healing process.


Relationships provide not only emotional support, but also the practical support of aid with day-to-day activities, money, and transportation. This may be especially helpful for people who are dealing with health problems or other obstacles that make it tough to go about their everyday lives normally.


Positive psychological and emotional health may be enhanced by a person's connections to a robust social support network. When we are struggling, we should not be afraid to ask for help from those we love and to accept the comfort they may provide. Recognizing and welcoming their assistance is a start in the right direction toward better mental health and a more fulfilling and healthy life.



Deepen the connection with loved ones

Going through mental health problems can trigger feelings of loneliness, confusion as well as negative thoughts. Build on your most trusted relationships and open up about how you're really feeling to help you get the support your need. These people will know you so well that they will be able to see improvements in your overall well-being, maybe before you do.


No matter how much we want to isolate ourselves from the world whenever we're dealing with mental health difficulties, our souls crave connection to others and thrive on their love and understanding of our problems.

Seeking the help and support of loved ones isn't by any means a sign of weakness. Asking for help when you need it is the absolute opposite. Being conscious enough to realize that it isn't healthy to bottle up his emotions and deal with everything alone shows strength, courage, and want to make positive mental health changes.


When we strengthen bonds with others we care about, we give ourselves a better chance of overcoming mental health challenges. When we let our guard down in the company of those we trust, we give them a glimpse into the real us, and it can strengthen our bonds. This will let them empathise with our situation and give us the necessary aid.


When dealing with mental health issues, it might be easy to retreat and isolate ourselves. However, doing so simply increases feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. Hope and drive can be sparked by the connections we have with those we care about. Further, they can point the way to changes in our health that we might have missed.


It takes courage, not weakness, to admit when we need help and then go out and get it. Confessing that we can't handle everything on our own takes guts. The first step towards improving our mental health is reaching out for support from the people who care about us. By prioritizing our own happiness and strengthening our relationships with others we care about, we send a message to ourselves that we are willing to put in the work necessary to achieve these goals.



Reflection

  1. Have you ever felt yourself isolating yourself from your loved ones?

  2. Who would you turn to if you wanted to share a mental health problem?

  3. What could you arrange this week to connect with a good friend?


Sources:

  • https://www.seemescotland.org/stigma-discrimination/the-role-of-family-and-friends/

  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860

  • https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/friendship-and-mental-health

  • https://amiquebec.org/the-role-of-friends-and-family/

  • https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/448/buildingasupportivenetwork#:~:text=It%20is%20important%20to%20surround,increase%20our%20mental%20well%2Dbeing.


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