Posts Tagged ‘support network’

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

    One way to better cope with stress is to rely on your social support network, aka friends and supportive community. But what if you don’t have an awesome support network to turn to? You can create one. While that is not as easy as clicking on a book on Amazon and downloading it to your Kindle,  and it will take time, it can be done!

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    1. First off, learn to support, encourage and validate yourself! And then practice self-care, support, encouragement and validation of yourself daily. People that are seeking emotionally healthy friends and peers tend to be drawn to others that have similar attitudes.Keep in mind validation is not affirmation nor cheer leading. (Affirmation and cheer leading can be helpful. However, if we do not also validate ourselves, we may not believe our affirmations and cheer leading and affirmations may actually end up making us feel more anxious if we don’t acknowledge our feelings and thoughts first.)

      Validation is the acceptance of yourself as you are, it involves self talk or recognition that what you are feeling or thinking makes sense and is understandable and logical given your experience in the world.For example, a self validation statement would be, “I am nervous about giving this speech. I haven’t given many speeches before and doing something new can be anxiety provoking.”

      An invalidating self statement might be: “I shouldn’t be nervous about giving this speech. What a loser that I can’t even give a speech without being nervous. Get it together!” Affirmation would be: “I am awesome. I can give  a great speech.” Cheer leading would be “I can do it. C’mon, self, you got this!”

2. Practice gratitude, writing gratitude lists, looking for what you have and appreciating it helps you feel better. Writing gratitude lists and practicing thinking in a grateful mindset helps train your mind to focus on what is positive and working in your life versus training your mind to look for what you do not have or focusing on fears.

Focusing on gratitude is not the same as requiring yourself to always be positive nor is it denial of pain, fear or things that are perceived as negative.

Gratitude allows us to notice that while there may be sadness or loss or fears, there are also things in your life to be grateful for. Thinking of these thinks, counting our blessings and remembering that even when we lose something we still have other things to appreciate helps keep us stable and feeling motivated. And this type of attitude will attract supportive people to you


3. Work with a psychotherapist/counselor to help you learn to be more validating and to connect with other people if you have trouble on your own. Psychotherapists are trained to be validating and encouraging. Telling you to be validating and encouraging of yourself sounds easy, but for many people it is not! It takes retraining, especially if what you learned from people growing up was to be self-critical, judgemental or shaming.

4. Be a joiner! If you have access to any support group, attend meetings and get to know other people in the group. For some people, this means attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or Alanon meetings or joining a support group for people with loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disorder. It can also mean checking out Meetups.com for people with simple similar interests like hiking, or reading, speaking French or folk dancing. If you belong to a church or religious group, get involved. A great way to meet positive supportive people is to volunteer with a charity that interests you.

E.K  Bernshaw has these tips as well in his post How To Attract Emotionally Healthy People.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

The Big C (TV series)

The Big C (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I noticed that I had a new blog follower, The Editor, aka Marie Ennis O’Connor, who writes Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. As I am a big fan of health-related blogs and the show  The Big C, I checked out her blog and found an amazing treasure-house of wisdom, compassion and support for cancer survivors, friend and families.

Her My Story page made me think of the wellness aspect of cancer and of all serious illnesses. Ms. O’Connor talks about how support is needed long after the cancer is gone. People often do not realize that long after we lose a loved one, the funeral is over or people have beat an illness or recovered from an injury or trauma, there can be lasting psychological effects. I recall a friend telling me years ago that she needed more support many months later after her father died, not just during the funeral. People did not want to talk to her about her father’s death, however. It made them uncomfortable and many did not understand her pain and grief many months afterwards. Luckily she had a few close friends that had lost parents to and she could share and find support with them.

Social support is an important part of stress management. Having people we can turn to when we are having a hard time is important to our well-being. The blogosphere is one way that survivors can share and find social support among people who have similar experiences. If you have had breast cancer or know someone who has, read her blog. it can inspire you and may comfort you. And maybe even give you a new social support network.

Check out these posts from Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer:

• A great post about the social hierarchy of suffering,Is there a hierarchy among cancer survivors?
• Go to this link for a collection of great blog posts about the Psychology of Cancer.

• Go to this link for a a great guest post about one woman’s story and the importance of early detection and being assertive with medical personnel.

And check out Showtime’s The Big C if you want to watch a somewhat humorous take on a woman going through her own fictionalized story of cancer.

Note: I do not get any advertizing dollars or any other compensation from Showtime for plugging the show, The Big C. If I did I could likely retire. I just like the show and I think watching it gives people insight into some of the issues cancer survivors struggle with.

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