What is a Support System? Why Should You Build One?

Gabby MartinMental Health

Why You Need a Support System


  • What Does a Support Network Mean?

  • Different Types of Support Systems

  • Benefits of Supportive Relationships

  • How You Can Build Healthy Relationships

A support system is a network of people you can turn to for support.

There's no doubt about it: we are social creatures. It's apart of being human. Living a comfortable, happy life and having strong, supportive, positive people you can turn to in times of crisis goes hand in hand. This is especially true for those building a new life in sobriety or post-hoarding situations. In fact, rebuilding or repairing your social life after having to change your life is one of the most difficult aspects of recovery.

As specialized cleaners, you may think we don't sympathize, but in fact, we do. A few of our own struggled with addiction long before they found their calling cleaning up crime scenes, hoarding, and other bloody situations. We remember how scary and confusing the first steps were. That's why we're here.

The Definition of a Support System

Since the meaning varies so greatly from person to person, you might wonder what it should mean. It's exactly as the name implies: a network of people you can turn to for support. Ideally, this network of people should be healthy, practical, and reliable.

What do you do when you need financial, emotional, or sometimes physical help? Any person that comes to mind is considered apart of your support system.

The Different Types of Support Systems

Needless to say, there's several different types of support, as well as their respective systems. In the sense of what kinds of support, there main three are:

  • Physical assistance (e.g. transportation, personal fitness trainers, maids)
  • Emotional and physiological aid
  • Informational sharing

In addition, there are several types of supportive relationships that fall into the above categories:

  • Family (e.g. significant other, parents, siblings)
  • Friends and support groups
  • Institutions (e.g. social services, schools, churches, and food banks)

The Benefits of Supportive Relationships

The benefits of having supportive relationships are rewarding mentally, emotionally, and physically. Having someone to turn to during the good, bad, and ugly times contributes to overall well-being. Here are a few benefits you gain from having good relationships:

  • Reduced Stress: Knowing someone you can trust lowers stress during the good and bad times. Reduced stress means less potential damage to major organs in the body.
  • Longer Life: Sober or not, it's been noted that having a social life may contribute to a longer lifespan.
  • Self Improvement and Growth: Being around people you admire, respect, or simply share the lifestyles of contributes greatly to personal growth. This is especially true of those recovering from domestic and substance abuse, like opioid dependence.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression: Finding your "tribe" contributes to a sense of purpose and overall belonging. This alone can boost serotonin, and dopamine, and stabilize hormones. This helps greatly for those suffering from mental illnesses like social anxiety, depression, or high-functioning autism.
  • Mental and Physical Healing: Asking for help after facing a trauma is important to healing, but did you know that just having a reliable partner may accelerate physical healing?

Supportive Relationships

Did you know?

A 2012 study noted that happily married people who undergo heart surgery are 3x likely more likely to recover within the following months.

ASA Article

How to Build Social Support

If you feel like you need a new support system, your first question is probably where you should look. It's going to take a bit of trial and error, but as you can see, the results are well worth it. Here are some tips to help you find your tribe:

  1. Pick Up A New Hobby
  2. Join a Fitness Class
  3. Connect with Online Colleagues
  4. Look for Cool Meet-Ups
  5. Join a Recovery Group
  6. Volunteer to Do Something Fun
  7. Get Involved in a Weekly/Monthly Activity Group

Tip 1: Pick Up a New Hobby

If you have a hobby, old or new, see if there's a cool community that does this hobby together. Online enthusiasts can make great friends for swapping tips, material suppliers, and even ideas on how to make money from a chosen hobby. Local hobby groups do meet-ups, shared projects, and community events. from Etsy crafts to dirt biking to drone flying, hobby groups are always an interesting place to find like-minded friends and unlikely acquaintances.

Tip 2: Join a Fitness Class

Many people find their weekly social connection from fitness and health classes. Yoga, cardio kick-boxing, weight training, and everything in between provide connection to others in a shared setting. It's friendly and normal for your gym to become your social circle. Or if you prefer a more independent approach, join a group that has a regular biking or running route through your region and meet others to share your running playlist with.

Tip 3: Connect with Online Colleagues

If you're involved in an interesting or unique line of work, connect with your colleagues. Join professional groups on social media, get involved in discussions about your area of expertise, and make connections with people who are professionally involved and interested in the same things you are. Make network-ready friends both locally and those who will meet you as friends at conventions and meet-ups.

Tip 4: Look for Cool Meet-Ups

Speaking of meet-ups, there are all kinds of groups and events that hold meet-ups worth checking out. Meet other people who are classic noir film enthusiasts or people who meet for escape room challenges. If you already have an online community you like to chat with over mutual interests, see if they are holding meetups and if there might be one locally where you can meet online friends in person - or on Zoom.

Tip 5: Join a Recovery Group

Recovery groups are often very helpful in rebuilding your social circle with people who also care about staying sober and living carefully. Here, you will find support with the parts of your journey that your new sober-life friends may not understand. A recovery group is somewhere you can share your stories and struggles with new friends who will help you both personally and with ideas on how to try new things that might make your new life easier or a little more awesome.

Tip 6: Volunteer to Do Something Fun

Joining a volunteer group is another good way to get social while doing something fun and meaningful. Repainting homes and doing repairs for the elderly, building houses for the homeless, sorting donations for those in need, or cleaning up shabby properties can all be a fun way to spend a Saturday, help people, and meet a group of enthusiastic new friends at the same time.

Tip 7: Get Involved in a Weekly/Monthly Activity Group

You can also take yourself out of your routine with a weekly or monthly activity group. Some people love to get together for outdoor activities like hiking nearby cliffsides or mountain biking down the slopes. Meet up with friends with a group for outdoor ropes courses, indoor rock climbing, weight lifting, watersports, and many more activities all in a sober, positive community environment.

Give All Methods a Try

Every one of these methods can build a new social circle and part of your new social life. You don't have to commit to any one group immediately, just try out new social and activity combinations until you find the right mix with the right people. Eventually, you'll find one or more people who start to feel more like friends than acquaintances and your new support network will grow.

Inspire New Connections

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