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Everyone needs a team of supporters. A great support system builds you up, keeps you strong, and pushes you to do your best even when it may be difficult. There are many ways to build your support team and keep it going. Keep reading to find out all the benefits of a good support system and how you can get one.

What is a Support System?

“Four students in a healthy support system”
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A support system is a group of people who provide you with mental, emotional, and practical support when you need it most. They also help keep you going strong when you’re doing well.

Importance of a Support System

Without a support system, a person may feel like they are alone when they are having a hard time. It is important to have a strong support system so that you have those people to fall back on when things get rough.

Benefits of Your Support System

There are so many benefits to having a strong support system. It can lead to less stress, feeling more fulfilled, and more resilience in times of difficulty in your life.

Sustaining Your Current Relationships

1. Show Your Appreciation:

Make sure those who are currently in your support system know how much you care about them.

2. Stay in Touch:

It doesn’t matter if it’s on social media, through phone, email or text — don’t let those relationships fade away, especially the supportive ones.

3. Be Available:

Remember that relationships are a two-way street and you are a part of their support system as well. Be there for your friend or family member as much as they are there for you.

“Two female University of the People students smiling on a beach”
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4. Accept Help:

You don’t always have to be the rock of the group. Be conscious when you need support and accept help from your support system when it is offered to you.

5. Open Communication:

Open and honest communication is the best way to foster healthy relationships. In your current support system, practice open communication with the ones that matter most.

6. Respect Needs and Limits:

Know your own boundaries, and be firm with them. Get to know your friends’ and families’ needs and limits, and try to meet needs while respecting limits.

7. Know When It Isn’t Working:

Unfortunately, sometimes a relationship causes more stress than support. Recognize when that is and put a respectful end to that relationship. Other times, a relationship might fade and no longer is beneficial to either one of you. It might be time to let that relationship continue on its way out.

How to Build Your Social Support System

“University of the People students supporting a female student”
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1. Know What You Want

The first step in creating a support system is knowing what you want out of those in it. If you are looking for professional support, look within professional organizations, make contacts on LinkedIn, or get to know coworkers.

If you are looking for emotional support, try to meet people that are going through a similar situation as you are by joining online groups, in-person meetups, or creating your own interest groups.

2. Volunteer

When you volunteer, you are not only supporting the world, but you are supporting your soul as well. And a great bonus is that you’ll meet other good people with similar passions to add to your support network.

3. Join a Gym

If you’re looking for motivated, inspirational people to introduce to your support system, a gym is a good place to start. Joining a gym will also be great for your mental and physical health.

4. Meet Neighbors and Co-Workers

There may be people you interact with every day that you didn’t realize could be a great friend. Introduce yourself and get to know those people.

5. Join Professional Organizations

If you haven’t already, look into what professional organizations are in your career field and join the ones that are the most meaningful to you. This can lead to online relationships or in-person networks if you attend conferences and professional networking events.

6. Use Online Resources

Social media, forums, and blogs are all excellent ways to connect with other people in similar situations. Sometimes you may be going through something that people in your immediate circle may not understand, but rest assured there are other people in the world with the same experiences. The internet is a great way to find a like-minded support system.

A Personal Support System

1. Build Bonds With Family and Friends

You likely already have a few family members and friends, so build up those relationships by checking in regularly. Don’t be afraid to share what’s on your mind — the more you open up, they might too and the bond between you gets stronger.

2. Cultivate Many Interests

Think about things you enjoy, or things you’ve been meaning to do and get to it! You will support your own mind by doing activities you love, and you will likely meet new people doing so.

3. Take a Trip

“University of the People student hiking with a red backpack”
Photo by Philipp Kämmerer on Unsplash

To build up your personal support system, take a day trip, weekend trip or longer! Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to and get to know yourself on this solo adventure.

4. Get Some Exercise

When you are physically healthy, you will be mentally healthy as well. Get outside and get moving to up your personal support system.

5. Create a Personal Sanctuary

Make a spot within your home or workplace that is your personal sanctuary, where you go to feel good, zone out, create, calm down, or do whatever helps you feel good.

Traits of a Healthy Support System

Your support system should consist of the following. If you are in someone else’s support system, make sure to provide these as well.

1. Accountability

This is one of the areas where a support system can offer the most help. Your support system should hold you accountable for what you say you will do, or what you are striving to become. This can be in the way of health, work, hobbies or otherwise.

2. Fellowship

Your support system should be a group of people who can relate to you and share your interests. They should provide support if you are ill, having a rough day, or are going through serious life dilemmas.

3. Education

A good support system will help you continuously learn. People in your support group should open your eyes to new ideas, and deepen your knowledge of shared interests.

4. Purpose

Everyone has a purpose in life. Your support system should be there to help you accomplish your life’s purpose, or if you haven’t figured it out, they should help you realize yours.

5. Self-Care

Finally, you should involve self care into your support system. It’s not always up to the people in your life to support you, it is you supporting yourself as well. Give yourself plenty of rest, eat healthy, and make pick-me-up plans for when you’re feeling down.

“Woman practicing self-care near a window with plants”
Photo by Natalia Figueredo on Unsplash

When you have a strong support system, both in others and personally, you will be strong yourself. It may take time to build up your ideal support system, but once you do, keep it going and you may have a support system for life.