5 Best Types of Support We Need in Life (and Why a Support System Is Important)

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It is no secret that none of us can survive alone forever. We all need different types of support from others in order to thrive in life. We also should be ready to provide the below-discussed best types of social support to the people we love and even strangers whenever we can.

When someone close to you is struggling with something, such as an illness, financial problems, relationship issues, self-doubt, loss of a loved one, or other challenges, you should be there for them providing one or all of the 5 best types of support.

Since many people often don’t reciprocate, it is important to build a support system that can do the same for you when you experience difficulties.

So, what is a support system and who should you include in it? Also, why is a support system important? Read on…

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What Is A Support System?

A support system is a group of people who can be with you during your good and bad times. You can always count on them to provide different types of support when you need them.

Your support system should include your family, romantic partner, friends, and peers. It can also include therapists, teachers, colleagues, mentors, religious leaders, and even pets.

The people in your social support system accept you just as you are, encourage you to chase your goals, and give you the other types of support discussed below. 

There are 5 different types of social support we all need in life, and that you can give someone when they are going through a difficult time. But before we go to the types of support, why is it important to build a strong support system? Let’s see…

10 Reasons Why A Support System Is Important

  1. It improves your sense of belonging and security by making you feel loved, understood, and less alone.
  2. Social support enables you to develop better coping mechanisms when experiencing challenges.
  3. Your support system is a good source of motivation and encouragement.
  4. It improves your emotional, mental, and physical health.
  5. You develop better decision-making, problem-solving, and social skills.
  6. Social support improves your self-esteem and self-confidence.
  7. It promotes good behavior and healthy habits.
  8. Research shows that having a support system can make you live longer.
  9. It provides easier access to the resources you need to solve your problems and succeed in life, e.g., human, financial, and informational resources.
  10. Having a support system makes your life more fulfilling and happier.

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5 Best Types of Support We Need in Life

  1. Emotional support

Of all the 5 different types of social support we need in life, emotional support is the best and most crucial one you can give someone who is struggling. And the good thing is that it doesn’t cost you anything.

You can provide this type of support to someone by being caring, empathetic, and concerned about their wellbeing. Showing emotional support can make the other person feel loved, understood, and less alone when going through a difficult time.

For instance, you can provide this type of social support to someone who is depressed or sad by just being there, listening to them, hugging them, and providing a shoulder to cry on without judgment.

Offering words of encouragement and reassurance are also good ways to show emotional support. If you have been in a similar situation in the past, you can be vulnerable with them and share your experience including how you dealt with your problems.

However, although we need this type of support when we are struggling, you must remember to avoid toxic positivity while trying to provide emotional support; it can make the other person feel worse.

READ ALSO: 5 Ways to Support a Loved One Facing DUI Charges

  1. Informational support

Another of the important types of support we need in life comes in the form of information.

You can give someone informational support by offering advice, recommendations, suggestions, or useful facts that can help them overcome whatever difficulties they are going through.

For instance, if someone is struggling to make a difficult decision, you can give them the informational type of support by sharing your knowledge on the subject based on your experience or research. You could also suggest or recommend what you think they should do.

READ ALSO: 14 Best Things to Do When Your Life Sucks (Why It Happens)

  1. Tangible support

Also referred to as instrumental support or material support, this is one of the best types of support you can get or give someone.

Tangible support involves providing practical and physical things that assist someone to deal with their challenges directly, thus helping them alleviate stress or anxiety associated with the problems.

You can get or give someone this type of support by providing tangible things such as money, clothes, food, books, or any other materials or services that could help them deal with their issues.

Bringing soup to a sick person or giving money to someone struggling with finances are good examples of tangible support. Similarly, opening the door for an individual whose hands are full of other things or taking over some of someone’s responsibilities when they are overwhelmed by too many tasks are also examples of instrumental support.

READ ALSO: 10 Reasons Why You Should Stop Being Too Nice (and How)

  1. Appraisal support

Also known as esteem support, this type of social support is similar to the informational one. But instead of providing new information or ideas, with appraisal support, you offer feedback, encouragement, or ask questions that help someone evaluate themselves and their situations.

Though we are often encouraged not to worry about what others think of us, appraisal support is crucial as it helps you understand yourself better, feel good about yourself, gain self-confidence, make good decisions, and improve the areas of your life that are lacking.

Examples of ways you can provide the appraisal type of support to someone include giving them constructive feedback, compliments to remind them of their strengths, validations of their feelings, or words of encouragement to help them overcome challenges.

READ ALSO: 5 Ways to Make People Have More Confidence in You

  1. Social network support

Even introverts, shy people, and those struggling with social anxiety disorder know they cannot survive alone in this world. We all need each other eventually to deal with the personal and professional challenges we may face on our life’s journey.

Social network support is one of the important types of support we need in life, that you can also give someone. It involves including them in your activities with others as well as connecting them with other people who can help them.

For instance, you can provide social network support to someone by bringing them along to hang out with you and your friends, recommending them for jobs, inviting them to networking events, or giving them or their business a shoutout on social media.

Social network support is just as important as the other 4 types of support because it helps people who are struggling to make new friends, advance their careers, and gain a sense of belonging somewhere.

READ ALSO: 12 Best Ways to Show Someone You Love Them with Actions and Words

Final Thoughts

As we go through various life situations, we all need different types of support from our loved ones to stay strong and motivated so we can solve our problems and get to a better place.

Depending on the challenges you or someone else is experiencing, there are 5 best types of social support you (or they) may need in life; which are, emotional, tangible, appraisal, informational, and social network support.

Since no man is an island, it is important to build a support system consisting of your family, friends, and peers who will provide the above best types of support when you need them. 

However, don’t be the toxic friend or family member who only shows up when you need help and disappears when others need you. Keep in mind that reciprocity is crucial when you want to keep your relationships strong and be ready to provide the different types of social support to others when they are struggling too.

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