When your stress levels skyrocket, you may feel like shutting yourself off from others. Resist the urge! Isolating yourself, while an easy option, is not a solution to stress. And shouldering burdens on your own may create stress or make existing stress worse.
Turn to your support system instead. People with a strong support system may manage stress better. Plus, people with an active social life may have reduced stress. They may have stronger immune systems and lower feelings of isolation, a contributing factor to depression.
Where does your support system come from?
You can find support for stress in a number of places. These may include a:
- Supportive family member
- Supportive friend
- Religious organization
- Community organization
- Supportive co-worker
- Friends from a volunteer activity
Building a support system
You may already have a support system in place. If you do, work to build those relationships. Call a friend or email a family member. Spend time with loved ones. Share your feelings and concerns. This may help lower your stress level. Just be sure to be there for them in their time of need, too.
On the other hand, you may be lacking a support system. Fortunately, you can build one today.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Volunteer. Help others and make new friends.
- Take a class or join a club. Find others with similar interests. Try a dinner club, book group or sports team.
- Carpool to work. Get to know your co-workers better and save gas.
- Reach out. Invite a neighbor to do something fun. Go out for dinner or head to the movies.
- Walk a dog. If you don't own one, walk a dog from your local shelter. Meet other dog walkers in the process.
- Attend a community event. Go to a lecture or art opening. Listen to a book reading or music recital. See what's available in your community and where to find that information.
- Call your alumni association. Some sponsor workshops and events for alumni. See what your association has to offer.
- Track down old friends. Reconnect with old friends — who would welcome the reconnection — using social media.
A word about social community
Social community sites can help you meet others with your same interests, and even others who are dealing with stress. Just be sure it's a safe site.
If you choose to join an online community site, make sure that the website is credible, current and accurate. Determine where the information comes from. Was it written by medical experts, a commercial business, an advertiser or an ill-informed (but well-intentioned) consumer? Remember, no website can replace your doctor's advice.
Finding professional support
If stress is disrupting your daily routine and ability to function, you may need professional help. Check with your doctor first for recommendations. Then you may also try your spiritual counselor, family or friends. Your health plan or your Employee Assistance Program at work (EAP) may have a list of recommended specialists you could call.
The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has information about getting help. It has an online mental health treatment services locator for more than 8,000 facilities and programs nationwide.
Created on 05/13/2013
Updated on 05/13/2013
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral health treatment services locator.
- American Psychological Association. Stress won’t go away? Maybe you are suffering from chronic stress.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing stress.
- National Institute of Mental Health. Fact sheet on stress.