Life throws us many curveballs. Dealing with some of those curveballs is easier than others.
No matter what kind of challenge you’re facing, going to a support group can be a lifesaver for getting through a difficult time in your life. For example, friends and family of alcoholics have Al-Anon support groups, there are many groups for people who have cancer, and there are even groups with members who are going through a divorce.
But, if you have friends and family you can fall back on during tough times, why bother searching for and attending meetings?
Here are five ways of joining a support group can help you through a difficult time.
Feel Less Alone
If you’re going through a rough period in your life, you may not know many people who have gone through the same thing. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world struggling with your particular issue.
Loneliness is a huge public health problem. Those who feel alone experience health problems that include:
- Increased risk of depression and suicide
- Cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Alcoholism and drug abuse
- Faster progression of Alzheimer’s disease
- A poor diet that can lead to diabetes
The truth is, there are many other people out there who have gone through the exact same thing. You just have to find them, and the best way to do that is by attending a support group.
Expand Your Social Network
It’s easier than ever to expand your social network with the internet. There are many groups you can join online to help you through a difficult time, and the connections you make there can be life-changing. However, they can’t replace a traditional support group.
Face-to-face interactions offer many benefits over online interactions. We act differently when we interact in person, we feel more fulfilled, and we’re less likely to feel lonely.
Unfortunately, expanding your face-to-face social network when you’re facing a life challenge can be nearly impossible. It can feel like a dark cloud is hanging over your head when you meet new people. Attending a meeting means the problem you’re experiencing is already out in the open, which can create deeper, more meaningful social connections.
Feeling Empowered and Staying Motivated
If you’re dealing with cancer, it can feel like you’re at the mercy of your disease. If you’re dealing with a drug or an alcohol addiction, it can be hard to stay motivated to keep away from your drug of choice.
You can overcome any obstacle, be it personal or professional, by learning how to stay motivated. One of the best ways to do that is to attend support meetings regularly.
Other members of the group can make you accountable for your behavior, and they can tell you that you’re doing a great job when you need to hear it. Many attendees return home after a meeting feeling like they really can conquer their problem head-on when they didn’t feel that way before they arrived.
Get Relevant, Useful Advice
Your friends and family mean well when they give you advice. Unfortunately, most advice is unwanted and ineffective. After all, how can they possibly know if they haven’t been through what you’re going through!
Don’t be afraid to let them know you aren’t interested in their advice, but you should also seek out relevant, useful advice, which is what you’ll get at a support meeting.
The advice you receive from other members of the group will be more relevant to your situation. They are more likely to provide you with actionable advice that you can use to tackle your problem.
Learn About Resources You Didn’t Know Existed
There are a lot of great resources out there, no matter what you’re struggling with. The bad news is that they’re nearly impossible to find, especially if you don’t even know they exist!
Attending a support group is a great way to learn about the community resources that are available to you, based on your situation, that you didn’t know about before. You could discover a new food bank program, career resources, housing assistance, and much more than you would never have been able to utilize without having met the people in your support group.
Attending a support group for the first time can be scary, but it can be immensely rewarding. No matter what challenges you’re facing, if you can find a support group in your area to help, you can tackle any life challenge with confidence.