It Takes A Village: The Benefits of Support Groups
Last updated: July 2022
In the world of social media, there are groups for just about EVERYTHING a person could imagine. Many of these groups are recreational in nature. Fortunately, there are also those – like our beloved Heart Failure community – that serve as support groups. Support groups are a little different from recreational groups. Members tend to have shared experiences, not just common interests. Additionally, they can get helpful tips on self-care and alternative treatments that may be worth discussing with their loved ones. Depending on its nature, the support group may be open to everyone or closed to a specific group (i.e., caregivers only). Nevertheless, all support groups provide three essential things: inspiration, understanding, and resilience.
Receiving a diagnosis of a chronic condition causes a flood of emotions. It is easy to get lost in one’s feelings because it is so much to process. Support groups are a great place to start when dealing with these issues. You may meet people at various stages of their diagnosis. In some cases, you may come across people who recovered. Within these groups, a person also gets to learn how others are managing their health. Fortunately, this benefits patients and caregivers alike. By reading or listening to the journeys of others, the support group can provide inspiration in the face of despair. Similarly, caregivers and children can also find inspiration in support groups when they hear about the stories of other patients.
Understanding through your heart failure journey
Caregivers and other family members have different challenges than those faced by the patient. If they do not go to doctor's appointments with the patient, they may not understand what is happening and why. Furthermore, patients are not always able to explain what they need or how they are feeling. Support groups provide insight into what the patients are experiencing in a way that a lot of patients cannot. This helps loved ones and caregivers be more empathetic. Additionally, participation in support groups gives patients a chance to self-reflect. Sometimes, patients learn that they are having emotions they didn’t know they had. Furthermore, shared experiences from other patients can provide understanding about lesser-known symptoms and medication side effects.
Resilience is a term used when you talk about a person’s ability to overcome challenges. It can be developed during any phase of life. Importantly, it can get stronger over time. The foundation of resilience is supportive relationships - your village. These relationships are not limited to family members. Relationships can come from schools, religious groups, and even team sports. As such, support groups are another excellent source of relationships. These groups are a “safe” place for people to express feelings, usually without judgment. Sometimes, support groups provide unexpected ways to overcome these challenges as well. 1
Find your village
No matter where you are in your healthcare journey, support groups can help. These outlets allow you to express yourself and learn from others. Additionally, they can provide welcomed confirmations and unexpected revelations. Inspiration, understanding, and resilience are just some of the benefits of being a part of support groups. They are also an excellent way to practice self-care. You may even develop lifelong friendships that become like family. So, find your village. And if you’re already part of ours, we’re glad you came.
How have you benefited from support groups? Do you prefer an online or in-person group? Share your own experiences and stories with support groups for heart failure by clicking the button below!
Besides heart failure, do you have any other chronic medical conditions?
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