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A Very Oqea Christmas: Understanding Social Support Networks and the Mutual Gift of Expressing Gratitude

A Very Oqea Christmas: Understanding Social Support Networks and the Mutual Gift of Expressing Gratitude

Written by Atle Edgar


This holiday season, the team at Oqea thought it would be a great time to reflect on the value of support networks and how they contribution to personal journeys in recent challenging or difficult times, the types of support we can give or receive, and the types of supporters that surround us. We thought it would be a appropriate time to give you all a small gift to show gratitude to share with the pillars of support in your lives! Read until the end too find out what it is and how best to ue it!


What are support networks?


Support networks are an invaluable tool - literally! These personal connections can be thought of as an invisible safety net, a vital component of personal resilience and wellbeing. They journey alongside us and assist us with traversing difficult problems, processing unfortunate events and may help us avoid certain problems altogether. Beyond that, support networks will often facilitate mutual exchange of life experiences, strengthening bonds and understandings with those around us. Like a garden, support networks must be nurtured, they take initial effort to form and require constant maintenance. We have prepared some tips and information that can aid your efforts as you invest in some of life’s most mutually rewarding relationships.


How do you build your support network?


Support networks are unique, they will often vary from person to person. Your network should be specific to your individual needs and preferences and is influenced by a number of factors;
friends & family, community involvements, sporting involvements, schooling, hobbies and many other factors can play pivotal roles in forming your support network.
For many people, identifying that you require more support and then actioning that need can be difficult. Formulating a plan and figuring out what supports you require and how you might find them is the imperative first step.


Here are some simple things you can do if you want to start building your support network. Like seeds in a garden, you will not be rewarded straight away but over time you will be rewarded for calm and consistent efforts!


1. Share to maximise your support
We often assume others understand exactly how we are feeling and what we need, but this certainly isn’t always the case. Being clear and expressing your needs and sharing occurrences in your life can help those around you identify what is happening and provide the best support they can. Remember to be patient and give people time to understand and ask questions to best understand your situation.


2. Ask for help
Reach out to people you know to help broaden your networks, whether in-person or online.  Asking someone to introduce you to new people is not a big ask and often people see the request as a compliment.  This process of asking for an introduction can  assist in reducing some of the early awkwardness when meeting new people.


3. Say ‘Yes’, be a ‘joiner’!

It could be that joining a support group or social group of some capacity will be the best place to meet like-minded people. Although support groups There are many support group directories, don’t hesitate to look up local groups in your area!          


4. Patience is key
This process will not just happen overnight. Like most good things, making new friends takes time. It will  involve meeting new people and then spending time and sharing experiences to build trust and mutual respect and understanding of each other's personality, something which can take months and a few attempts.


5. Say ‘no’ to negative relationships

Recognizing that a certain relationship may be toxic and causing more stress on your life, is a difficult but crucial step in supporting your emotional wellbeing. It can certainly be painful, but knowing when it is time to end a relationship is a skill, we all must master. It is not all black and white however, sometimes just drawing back and spending less time together can be all it takes, rather than fully abandoning a relationship. It may not always be obvious when a relationship is harmful: obvious signs like verbal or physical abuse are easier to identify, but more subtle indicators like excessive dependence, control issues or consistent negativity can also be signs. Just remember that if a relationship does not work, it does not mean you are responsible, however taking charge of the decision is another way to build your wellbeing.


6. Nurture your relationships
Being a good friend can be incredibly helpful in building a strong friendship. This means not just meeting up with someone socially but also proactively staying connected, checking up on them or just making sure they know you appreciate them. Whether it is in person, or via text, phone, or video call, maintaining that connection is crucial - hopefully, you can help support them as well! Do not be too concerned or worried if you disagree sometimes, these situations will arise from time to time, but effective communication will let you work through these, and even strengthen your relationships!


7. Take social risks (You can do this!)
Seeking out and introduce yourself to new people is the most important part of building your network. Creating opportunities for yourself to meet others like joining a new sport team, a club you are interested in, volunteering or even going to a party, are examples of scenarios that encourage you to meet and interact with new people. Although it can be daunting initially, staying positive and true to yourself is all you’ll need to start making connections.


8. Take advantage of technology
Do not be afraid by the opportunities technology and social media allow. These days there are many ways to maintain and develop relationships. Many online groups will offer refuge and understanding for very specific issues or interests, so good chance you’ll find lots of like minded people willing to support you, while you support them!

Types of Support


Emotional Support
Emotional support is the most well-known form of social support. E  emotional supportoccurs when someone listens to you, empathises or  even provides physical comfort like a hug,  a part on the back or a kind word acknowledging them. Just letting someone know that you can understand or relate to what they are going through can be invaluable.


Practical Support
Practical help, also known as tangible support, refers to support when someone will take on responsibilities, tasks or even provides things like food or financial support to aid their efforts in dealing with a problem they are actively experiencing.
An example of this  could be providing aid  with that issue directly or supporting other areas of their life to alleviate other stressors, allowing them to  focus on the problem at hand. A good example would be when someone is sick so their friend brings them food or helps by looking after their children.


Esteem Support/Sharing points of view
Encouragement is the fuel on which hope runs. Esteem support is expressed through words of confidence or encouragement. It could remind you of your strengths, help validate an idea you were unsure about or remind you of the realities of a situation you are facing. Life coaches and therapists often channel this form of support, by showing that someone believes in us it can help us believe in ourselves.


Information Support
Providing information in the form of giving advice, or collecting and sharing information which could illuminate next steps for a person to consider , can be classified as sharing support. Whether it comes from a professional,  a family member or friend can help us navigate unfamiliar situations, allow us to make more informed decisions, or better understand occurrences in our lives. An example could be your friend warning you not to accept your recent job offer as they had previously worked for the company and know their culture would not be the best fit for you and your personal values.


4 Pillars of support


At Oqea, we often categorise forms of social support within an individual’s support network into 4 Primary Pillars. These are easily understandable as described below:


Family Support – This could be your close family, extended family or potentially even people that are so close they feel like family. If you consider them family, that is the most important thing! Family is often where we find people with the greatest desire to see us succeed and who are personally invested and willing to offer time and advice.


Peer Support – This pillar represents not  not only your friends but also your work colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, trusted teachers/mentors and  even friends of friends.

Self-Support - This pillar of support comes from within and is all about ensuring we are equipped with the right mental tools, resilience mindset or information/awareness which can  enable us to cope with everyday life in healthier ways.


Professional Support – In support of your personal mental health and wellbeing, access to qualified  health professionals can be very beneficial. These professionals provide a range of support including  prescribed medication,  others may use different forms of counselling. These services could be practical, directly relieving an issue, or may help us understand the patterns of our lives.


How are the 4 support pillars incorporated into Oqea services?


Self-Support – Oqea offers the self-help resources and tools to empower members to expand their knowledge of wellbeing  and gain insight into patterns of mental health in their lives. Both aspects work together to allow for more informed decision making when guiding your own unique wellbeing journey.

Self-help resources can be found in the For You section and are filtered by your selected focus areas. They offer articles, videos, and audio content from Oqea itself and a vast range of experts across a multitude of health fields. The Who-5 and DASS-21 self-assessments are currently Oqea’s main wellbeing tracking functions. Completing the Who-5 daily may help you understand what things have positive and negative effects have on your mental wellbeing, and allow you to make more informed decisions about your lifestyle. These can be located at the bottom of the Oqea home page.


We also offer tools like notes, goal setting and task setting to help guide and focus self-improvement. All of which can found on the + button on the journey page.


Peer/Family – Peer and family support is supported in several ways. One of the most powerful ways is by allowing those closest to us to be a member of your care team, basically digitalizing your unique support network. This allows them to view and track your who-5 score in the app, your selected focus areas, the appointments/services you are receive and the ability to view your messages with other care team members, and message those people themselves (like your GP or psychiatrist for example). This is an important function as it allows people more insight into how you are doing, so they can better support you. Don’t worry about privacy, oqea offers the ability to control sharing permissions with each member of your support network individually on the settings page.


Messaging is the other primary function that enables peer/family support, allowing you to connect with them in a discrete and safe manner, you could even create a group chat with all you family and close friends to connect with them all at the same time!


The crisis feature also enables connection with peer/family supporters. This feature is visible at the top right of the support page (?add link), and allows for members to create custom buttons, connecting them with specific people when they are in a crisis. For example, you can have one button to text your mum and another to call emergency services. This is also useful for emergency contact of professional support.


Professional Support
– Finally, professional support. Oqea offers members the ability to find & connect with their health care providers. Sharing important medical information, messaging, schedule appointments and file sharing amongst many others. Allowing providers a better overview of your wellbeing without requiring you to repeat information. Importantly, if you have multiple providers on your care team, they can efficiently share information between themselves, maximizing their timely understanding of your needs and coordinating your care more effectively and strengthening your support network.


A gift of gratitude from Oqea to you (and from you to your support network!)


This year the Oqea team wanted to share a resource that you can give to the amazing people who make up your support network. Showing gratitude to the people around you is always a worthwhile endeavor and an important part of maintaining your support network. It may be the thing that helps those around you understand how vital they are for your wellbeing and make the support even more powerful.


So, what can you do with this gift?


Digital gratitude

1. Chose  a person (or group of people) who you are thankful for their support/positive presence in your life
2. Write why you are grateful to them in as many or as few words as you need
3. Send this image to those who you want to express gratitude. You can email, text or any range of means.
4. Feel good for reaching out to those important to you and expressing their value in your life.

Physical gratitude

1. Choose  a person (or group of people) who you are thankful for their support/presence in your life
2. Write why you are grateful to them in as many or as few words as you need
3. Print out the card and write on the back OR send it in an envelope with a note attached
4. Feel good for reaching out to those important to you and expressing their value in your life.

Find the gratitude cards here

We hope you enjoy sharing the gift of gratitude, and get the gift of feeling good for expressing youself to your loved ones this christmas!

Additional resources

https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/manage-social-support
https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/social-support-vol6
https://mensline.org.au/mens-mental-health/the-power-of-a-good-support-network/
https://www.verywellmind.com/social-support-for-psychological-health-4119970
https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/wellness-module/wellness-module-3-social-support
https://www.verywellmind.com/types-of-social-support-3144960
https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/wellness-module/wellness-module-3-social-support


 

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A Very Oqea Christmas: Understanding Social Support Networks and the Mutual Gift of Expressing Gratitude


This holiday season, the team at Oqea thought it would be a great time to reflect on the value of support networks and how they contribution to personal journeys in recent challenging or difficult times, the types of support we can give or receive, and the types of supporters that surround us. We thought it would be a appropriate time to give you all a small gift to show gratitude to share with the pillars of support in your lives! Read until the end too find out what it is and how best to ue it!


What are support networks?


Support networks are an invaluable tool - literally! These personal connections can be thought of as an invisible safety net, a vital component of personal resilience and wellbeing. They journey alongside us and assist us with traversing difficult problems, processing unfortunate events and may help us avoid certain problems altogether. Beyond that, support networks will often facilitate mutual exchange of life experiences, strengthening bonds and understandings with those around us. Like a garden, support networks must be nurtured, they take initial effort to form and require constant maintenance. We have prepared some tips and information that can aid your efforts as you invest in some of life’s most mutually rewarding relationships.


How do you build your support network?


Support networks are unique, they will often vary from person to person. Your network should be specific to your individual needs and preferences and is influenced by a number of factors;
friends & family, community involvements, sporting involvements, schooling, hobbies and many other factors can play pivotal roles in forming your support network.
For many people, identifying that you require more support and then actioning that need can be difficult. Formulating a plan and figuring out what supports you require and how you might find them is the imperative first step.


Here are some simple things you can do if you want to start building your support network. Like seeds in a garden, you will not be rewarded straight away but over time you will be rewarded for calm and consistent efforts!


1. Share to maximise your support
We often assume others understand exactly how we are feeling and what we need, but this certainly isn’t always the case. Being clear and expressing your needs and sharing occurrences in your life can help those around you identify what is happening and provide the best support they can. Remember to be patient and give people time to understand and ask questions to best understand your situation.


2. Ask for help
Reach out to people you know to help broaden your networks, whether in-person or online.  Asking someone to introduce you to new people is not a big ask and often people see the request as a compliment.  This process of asking for an introduction can  assist in reducing some of the early awkwardness when meeting new people.


3. Say ‘Yes’, be a ‘joiner’!

It could be that joining a support group or social group of some capacity will be the best place to meet like-minded people. Although support groups There are many support group directories, don’t hesitate to look up local groups in your area!          


4. Patience is key
This process will not just happen overnight. Like most good things, making new friends takes time. It will  involve meeting new people and then spending time and sharing experiences to build trust and mutual respect and understanding of each other's personality, something which can take months and a few attempts.


5. Say ‘no’ to negative relationships

Recognizing that a certain relationship may be toxic and causing more stress on your life, is a difficult but crucial step in supporting your emotional wellbeing. It can certainly be painful, but knowing when it is time to end a relationship is a skill, we all must master. It is not all black and white however, sometimes just drawing back and spending less time together can be all it takes, rather than fully abandoning a relationship. It may not always be obvious when a relationship is harmful: obvious signs like verbal or physical abuse are easier to identify, but more subtle indicators like excessive dependence, control issues or consistent negativity can also be signs. Just remember that if a relationship does not work, it does not mean you are responsible, however taking charge of the decision is another way to build your wellbeing.


6. Nurture your relationships
Being a good friend can be incredibly helpful in building a strong friendship. This means not just meeting up with someone socially but also proactively staying connected, checking up on them or just making sure they know you appreciate them. Whether it is in person, or via text, phone, or video call, maintaining that connection is crucial - hopefully, you can help support them as well! Do not be too concerned or worried if you disagree sometimes, these situations will arise from time to time, but effective communication will let you work through these, and even strengthen your relationships!


7. Take social risks (You can do this!)
Seeking out and introduce yourself to new people is the most important part of building your network. Creating opportunities for yourself to meet others like joining a new sport team, a club you are interested in, volunteering or even going to a party, are examples of scenarios that encourage you to meet and interact with new people. Although it can be daunting initially, staying positive and true to yourself is all you’ll need to start making connections.


8. Take advantage of technology
Do not be afraid by the opportunities technology and social media allow. These days there are many ways to maintain and develop relationships. Many online groups will offer refuge and understanding for very specific issues or interests, so good chance you’ll find lots of like minded people willing to support you, while you support them!

Types of Support


Emotional Support
Emotional support is the most well-known form of social support. E  emotional supportoccurs when someone listens to you, empathises or  even provides physical comfort like a hug,  a part on the back or a kind word acknowledging them. Just letting someone know that you can understand or relate to what they are going through can be invaluable.


Practical Support
Practical help, also known as tangible support, refers to support when someone will take on responsibilities, tasks or even provides things like food or financial support to aid their efforts in dealing with a problem they are actively experiencing.
An example of this  could be providing aid  with that issue directly or supporting other areas of their life to alleviate other stressors, allowing them to  focus on the problem at hand. A good example would be when someone is sick so their friend brings them food or helps by looking after their children.


Esteem Support/Sharing points of view
Encouragement is the fuel on which hope runs. Esteem support is expressed through words of confidence or encouragement. It could remind you of your strengths, help validate an idea you were unsure about or remind you of the realities of a situation you are facing. Life coaches and therapists often channel this form of support, by showing that someone believes in us it can help us believe in ourselves.


Information Support
Providing information in the form of giving advice, or collecting and sharing information which could illuminate next steps for a person to consider , can be classified as sharing support. Whether it comes from a professional,  a family member or friend can help us navigate unfamiliar situations, allow us to make more informed decisions, or better understand occurrences in our lives. An example could be your friend warning you not to accept your recent job offer as they had previously worked for the company and know their culture would not be the best fit for you and your personal values.


4 Pillars of support


At Oqea, we often categorise forms of social support within an individual’s support network into 4 Primary Pillars. These are easily understandable as described below:


Family Support – This could be your close family, extended family or potentially even people that are so close they feel like family. If you consider them family, that is the most important thing! Family is often where we find people with the greatest desire to see us succeed and who are personally invested and willing to offer time and advice.


Peer Support – This pillar represents not  not only your friends but also your work colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, trusted teachers/mentors and  even friends of friends.

Self-Support - This pillar of support comes from within and is all about ensuring we are equipped with the right mental tools, resilience mindset or information/awareness which can  enable us to cope with everyday life in healthier ways.


Professional Support – In support of your personal mental health and wellbeing, access to qualified  health professionals can be very beneficial. These professionals provide a range of support including  prescribed medication,  others may use different forms of counselling. These services could be practical, directly relieving an issue, or may help us understand the patterns of our lives.


How are the 4 support pillars incorporated into Oqea services?


Self-Support – Oqea offers the self-help resources and tools to empower members to expand their knowledge of wellbeing  and gain insight into patterns of mental health in their lives. Both aspects work together to allow for more informed decision making when guiding your own unique wellbeing journey.

Self-help resources can be found in the For You section and are filtered by your selected focus areas. They offer articles, videos, and audio content from Oqea itself and a vast range of experts across a multitude of health fields. The Who-5 and DASS-21 self-assessments are currently Oqea’s main wellbeing tracking functions. Completing the Who-5 daily may help you understand what things have positive and negative effects have on your mental wellbeing, and allow you to make more informed decisions about your lifestyle. These can be located at the bottom of the Oqea home page.


We also offer tools like notes, goal setting and task setting to help guide and focus self-improvement. All of which can found on the + button on the journey page.


Peer/Family – Peer and family support is supported in several ways. One of the most powerful ways is by allowing those closest to us to be a member of your care team, basically digitalizing your unique support network. This allows them to view and track your who-5 score in the app, your selected focus areas, the appointments/services you are receive and the ability to view your messages with other care team members, and message those people themselves (like your GP or psychiatrist for example). This is an important function as it allows people more insight into how you are doing, so they can better support you. Don’t worry about privacy, oqea offers the ability to control sharing permissions with each member of your support network individually on the settings page.


Messaging is the other primary function that enables peer/family support, allowing you to connect with them in a discrete and safe manner, you could even create a group chat with all you family and close friends to connect with them all at the same time!


The crisis feature also enables connection with peer/family supporters. This feature is visible at the top right of the support page (?add link), and allows for members to create custom buttons, connecting them with specific people when they are in a crisis. For example, you can have one button to text your mum and another to call emergency services. This is also useful for emergency contact of professional support.


Professional Support
– Finally, professional support. Oqea offers members the ability to find & connect with their health care providers. Sharing important medical information, messaging, schedule appointments and file sharing amongst many others. Allowing providers a better overview of your wellbeing without requiring you to repeat information. Importantly, if you have multiple providers on your care team, they can efficiently share information between themselves, maximizing their timely understanding of your needs and coordinating your care more effectively and strengthening your support network.


A gift of gratitude from Oqea to you (and from you to your support network!)


This year the Oqea team wanted to share a resource that you can give to the amazing people who make up your support network. Showing gratitude to the people around you is always a worthwhile endeavor and an important part of maintaining your support network. It may be the thing that helps those around you understand how vital they are for your wellbeing and make the support even more powerful.


So, what can you do with this gift?


Digital gratitude

1. Chose  a person (or group of people) who you are thankful for their support/positive presence in your life
2. Write why you are grateful to them in as many or as few words as you need
3. Send this image to those who you want to express gratitude. You can email, text or any range of means.
4. Feel good for reaching out to those important to you and expressing their value in your life.

Physical gratitude

1. Choose  a person (or group of people) who you are thankful for their support/presence in your life
2. Write why you are grateful to them in as many or as few words as you need
3. Print out the card and write on the back OR send it in an envelope with a note attached
4. Feel good for reaching out to those important to you and expressing their value in your life.

Find the gratitude cards here

We hope you enjoy sharing the gift of gratitude, and get the gift of feeling good for expressing youself to your loved ones this christmas!

Additional resources

https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/manage-social-support
https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/social-support-vol6
https://mensline.org.au/mens-mental-health/the-power-of-a-good-support-network/
https://www.verywellmind.com/social-support-for-psychological-health-4119970
https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/wellness-module/wellness-module-3-social-support
https://www.verywellmind.com/types-of-social-support-3144960
https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/wellness-module/wellness-module-3-social-support