Strengthen Your Relationships
12 Practical Ways to Develop More Social Support
Healthy relationships and social connectedness are essential to emotional resiliency and overall health. Healthy relationships fulfill needs for intimacy, social integration, nurturing, assistance, and acceptance.
It is easier to cope with life’s challenges when you feel loved and appreciated. Even when things are going your way, your happiness is increased by sharing it with family and friends.
In fact, social ties may be even more important than you think. Many studies show that interpersonal relationships can enhance your mental and physical health and may even help you to live longer.
Health related measures such as blood pressure and heart rate can improve through positive social interactions and helping adding value to others can improve mental health and increase overall happiness.
Being part of a community is so valuable that it makes sense to do anything you can to strengthen your support network.
Try these practical ways for connecting with others.
How to Develop More Social Support from Family and Friends
You may have heard about how loneliness could have as many negative effects on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Whatever the exact numbers, family and friends are one of the most important ingredients for creating happiness and meaning.
Try these techniques to increase your support from friends and family:
- Block out time. Make your relationships a top priority. Stay in touch with daily family dinners and weekly coffee dates with friends.
- Share your feelings. Go beyond small talk. Engage in deeper conversations that will help you to know and understand each other.
- Listen closely. Give others your full attention instead of thinking about what else you need to do or what you want to say next. Practice validating someone else’s feelings and experiences even if you disagree with them.
- Extend your hospitality. Reach out with party invitations and suggestions for weekend outings. Organize monthly potluck dinners or an annual community party.
- Volunteer your services. Supporting worthy causes can also be an opportunity to meet others who share your interests and values. You may make new friends while you clean up a park or sort cans at your local food bank.
- Work out. Fitness can bring loved ones together. Buy a couples or family membership at a neighborhood gym or yoga studio. Start a family tradition of taking a morning run before leaving for work or school.
- Adopt a dog. Friends can have more than two legs. If your circumstances permit, bring home a dog or cat. Even a bird feeder can help you spend more time outdoors and feel closer to nature.
- Consider counseling. Are you uncertain about how to make your relationships more satisfying? Therapy could give you new insights and coping strategies.
How to Develop More Social Support from Coworkers
Depending on your career, professional relationships may come and go each time you change jobs. However, about one-third of your life is spent at work, so office buddies and skillful networking can make your daily life more satisfying.
Try these activities at work:
- Be authentic. As long as you avoid oversharing, being yourself at work can help you to feel more confident and fulfilled. Express your true thoughts and feelings and welcome constructive feedback.
- Greet new hires and help newcomers feel at home. Offer to give them a tour of your department or volunteer information about vegetarian lunch spots and what to expect at staff meetings.
- Teach others. Give others the benefit of your experience and skills. Show them how to save time and energy by automating routine tasks. Answer common questions about writing status reports or making sales calls.
- Think positive. You will make yourself more popular by having a cheerful attitude. Use tactful humor and focus on solutions when the computer network crashes, or your boss ignores deadlines.
With a loving heart and open mind, you’ll find it easier to cultivate the support you need. You may feel vulnerable reaching out at times, but the results are worth it. These activities will help you to enrich your own life and help others to do the same.