I can’t tell you the number of people who write to me looking for help in the midst of a full-blown crisis. They have no support network — no ready-made shelter now that the storm has hit. Finding a good counselor can be hard. And it’s even harder when you needed it. . .yesterday.
You likely check in with a medical doctor. You get that your body needs nourishment, exercise, and periodic check-ins to stay healthy. Yet so many of us don’t give the same attention to our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Here’s the best piece of advice I can give: Don’t wait until you’re in crisis to set up a support network.
I’ve been there. As a counselor, I struggled with burn-out early on in my work. I had to learn the hard way what’s it like to face crisis without a trusted support network. But I learned from that mistake.
I started by finding a counselor through my insurance network, which was daunting in and of itself. I then asked a friend to pray with me bi-weekly. Over time, I reached out to a woman I respected and and asked her to mentor me spiritually on a monthly basis. To this day, a month doesn’t go by without intentional, soul-nourishing conversation with trusted advisers. Sometimes I need these check-ins more than others, but I never regret them. Looking back, it couldn’t be clearer that setting up a support network has kept me strong through life’s challenges. By caring for my own emotional and spiritual health, I’ve had more to give to others.
7 Ways to Increase Your Support Network
1.) Ask yourself: Who is checking in on my mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being regularly?
It might be a counselor, a mentor, a small group, or a spiritual director. But if you can’t list at least 3 people who are regularly checking in with you, then consider expanding your support network. You were not designed to do life alone. We all need trusted advisers.
2.) Assess your needs individually and as a family.
Are you struggling to hold it together as a parent? Do you have a child who struggles with anxiety or behavioral problems? How’s your marriage? Are you single parenting? Have you been through any sort of trauma, past or present? Think about your specific situation and consider whether an individual counselor, marriage counselor, trauma-informed therapist, peer support group, or life coach might benefit you.
3.) Take a look at your budget.
Counseling can be an incredible asset to your support network, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Look at other health investments (such as gym memberships and personal care) and think about whether an investment in mental and emotional health might also be needed. Then check with your insurance company to determine your benefits. There’s a reason why many insurance companies provide mental health benefits—regular mental health check-ins are good for your health!
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Source: Church Leaders