Thanks for the great feedback and encouragement from everyone on my first blog post. I am feeling well-supported, indeed!
I wanted to share some thoughts now about how to strengthen your support circle, and I welcome readers to add more ideas in the comments below.
For those feeling disconnected, here are some suggestions to meet others and start to build or expand your support circle:
1) Get involved in groups you care about: your kid's school, a place of worship, a nonprofit fighting for a good cause. This is a way to meet people with common interests and shared values.
2) Volunteer! I recently met many of my neighbors at It's My Park Day here in Austin as we pitched in to clean up our community garden. Local newspapers, radio stations, and websites advertise upcoming volunteer events.
3) Reconnect with long-lost friends and family: Track down those with whom you once were close but have lost touch. Reach out to more distant family members who you may not have seen in a while. Social media can help you reconnect, but a phone call or even meeting in person is better!
4) Join a support group: This idea may seem obvious, but it can be daunting to reach out to a group of strangers to discuss a painful topic. However, support groups can be extremely beneficial. While I believe getting together face-to-face can be more healing, even online support groups and chat rooms can offer a certain level of camaraderie and advice.
5) Take a class: Schools, colleges, art and athletic organizations offer classes for adults on a myriad of topics. Some classes are free, or scholarships may be available. I met one of my now-best friends in a mountain biking class 15 years ago, offered by the local community college. I rarely get to mountain bike these days, but I still see my friend regularly.
6) Start a meet-up group: Pick an activity you love and invite others to join you. Find friends to exercise with you. Invite other parents to meet up for a regular playdate for your kids. Start a book club, a supper club, or a movie group.
7) Meet your neighbors: Getting to know the people who live nearby can be fun and beneficial. Offer to pet-sit or water the plants when your neighbors are out of town. Double the recipe if you bake cookies, and take a plate next door.
Please add more ideas below. Also, check out this wonderful post in Psychology Today about the importance of relationships for our well-being and more suggestions for building connections.
And remember, the best way to develop and maintain a strong support circle is to be part of the support circle for others. The reciprocity principle is alive and well in our culture. If you reach out to help others, they will likely be there for you when you need support.