The Importance of Building Support Networks
Updated: Dec 5, 2021
In a world where we are told to stay indoors and stay safe, it’s no wonder that people are finding it difficult to connect with others around them and maintain strong support networks. For many, their social lives will have been turned upside down and without the regular social interactions that come with a busy working environment, it’s understandable that people may soon feel isolated and lonely.
In this article, we are going to be discussing ways in which you can strengthen your existing support network, develop new connections, and create opportunities to help alleviate loneliness. There is also PowerPoint presentation at the bottom of the blog which contains further information.
Why We Need Support Networks
Support networks look different to each person and can vary in size and variety. Some might have a wide support network of family and friends that span the globe, while others will have a smaller group that is limited to their household. Support networks are not simply about the quantity, but rather the quality. In a world where we have seen our lives turned upside down, it is important to have someone to talk to, to connect with and to discuss your feelings with so that they can provide support and a more balanced viewpoint. Without this support network, you open yourself up to an increased likelihood of isolation and loneliness that can impact your mental health.
Who Is in Your Support Network?
Your support network can be made up of anyone you like, although most commonly it is the people you have the strongest connection to. This could be (although not limited to) your spouse, your siblings, your parents, your friends, your neighbours, your work colleagues to name but a few. These are your “go-to-people” when times are hard, they are the people you would ask their opinion of a situation, ask to help you in a time or hardship or simply seek advice from. Your support network may be vast or small, but in most cases, you will find you have an immediate network and a wider network, those who you would call upon instantly if something was wrong and those whose support you would use in addition to this.
How Does Your Personality Impact How You Make Friends?
Before we talk about strengthening your support network, it's worth noting that your personality plays a major part in your friendship making. There are three main factors in which this impacts, let’s take a look at them now.
Your personality type will play a part in not only the type of friends you attract but also the kind of support that will be received by those friends. For example, extraverted, confident personality types will often have many friends and acquaintances that they socialise with on a regular basis. However, it is difficult for an extravert to show vulnerability and to work at building strong connections with a few friends, often preferring the company of many. This makes building a support network a challenge that takes effort and persistence. In contrast, an introvert will be less inclined to open themselves up to new experiences and friendships, preferring to strengthen the connection with their existing support network.
Level of Effort
In order to build friendships, you need to put the effort in. Not just to create new friendships, but also to maintain them. As previously mentioned, a support network is only effective when it has a collection of high-quality relationships with it to help support one another. You need to ensure that you commit enough effort to find friends and maintaining friendships.
Social Anxiety Levels
It is no surprise that given what we have been through over the last year that social anxiety is on the increase. Social anxiety is the term given to a feeling of overwhelm that people encounter when they are put into social situations that they feel uncomfortable in. The physical symptoms include a quickened heartbeat, dizziness, trembling, nausea, muscle tension and sweating. If you find that you suffer from social anxiety, then there are ways that you can still make friends and maintain friendships without triggering this anxiety. We will discuss these below, however, if you feel that your social anxiety is becoming a problem in your life then there are additional support groups that you’ll find at the end of this article.
Tips for Maintaining Existing Friends