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What Is Peer Support?

What Is Peer Support?

Date : 2022-10-06

With so many outlets to express ourselves, but so few to do it meaningfully, people are finding themselves looking for new and real support systems. While peer support groups have been with us for a pretty long time, it’s this pressing need for real connection that’s brought peer support into the mainstream. At ShareWell, we want to make peer support easy to access, to promote overall wellness and mental health when we clearly need it more than ever. But wait. What is peer support? How is peer support different from group therapy? Or talking with friends and family? Will peer support work for you?

What Is Peer Support?

Peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other. Peer support is the answer to feeling isolated. It’s for anyone seeking validation and understanding (and also those who aren’t). Participating in peer support provides connection and support to help anyone on their journey of emotional healing and growth.

Though emotional growth isn’t where the benefits of peer support end. Studies have shown that being part of a peer support group can help people with depression find “significant improvement” in their resilience and overall mental health — an idea which has been around for decades.

What we consider peer support is primarily based on the concept of “peers” as people who share similar experiences, anxieties, or even something as simple stories. According to the American Psychological Association, “Peers can offer their experience living with mental health challenges along with offering emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance and connect people with resources, opportunity, communities of support, and people.”

The first step in group sessions is really straightforward: participants share and listen in a system of giving and receiving. What comes after that initial jump is really special, because peer support is about realizing you’re not alone, and learning from a community. Your peers offer up their own experiences and a variety of perspectives, and you share your own, building trust, confidence, and your own well-being.

And there are lots of different types of peer support groups. Some are online forums, some are one-on-one mentorship sessions, but most take the form of support groups or self-help groups focusing on education and sharing.

With our platform, we try to make it easy to become part of a consistent, reliable community where you can form the kind of deep connections that feel meaningful and lead to positive change.

When talking about what peer support is, it’s important to consider what it isn’t. Peer support is not the same as group therapy, which is usually led and facilitated by a licensed mental healthcare provider who may or may not have personal lived experience of the topic. Peer support is also not:

 - Counseling
 - Psychoanalysis
 - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There are a lot of great resources for those specific clinical approaches, but peer support is its own unique practice.

Who Is Peer Support For?

Peer support is for everyone. No, really, we mean it.

We know that mental health is deeply personal, and different people benefit from different types of support. From crisis hotlines to telehealth services, there are lots of options for people seeking support with their mental health. Often, it can be hard to know where to look or to understand what is right for you. Peer support is for anyone looking for a connection, no matter who they are or what stage of life they find themselves.

If you’re feeling a little detached or isolated in life, peer support empowers its users to build support systems and to become part of a community. As a mutual assistance platform, users are pulled out of their bubbles and into welcoming sessions which value them, where they can help others and be helped in the process.

Peer support groups are most effective when you feel empowered to be vulnerable. We ensure this by providing sessions filled exclusively with people who have similar experiences. Here everyone in a session gathers around to talk, share, and listen without hierarchy or judgement, from your peers to your facilitator.

Is Peer Support Right For Me?

Peer support is right for anyone who is open to talking and listening about some of life’s harder moments. Peer support programs commonly address challenges like addiction, anxiety, depression, bereavement, trauma, divorce, relationship problems, and other mental health conditions.

Whether you’re struggling with these or other, more specific challenges, we have a group for you. Even as a newcomer, ShareWell sessions are welcoming. Having a group of friendly confidants who you can trust and learn from is just a few clicks away.

It comes down to this: if you’re the kind of person who feels like nobody understands you in your day-to-day life, whether it’s because of the passions you have or the pain you may feel, peer support is right for you.

Ready to try peer support? Find a community that’s right for you!
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10 Ways to Overcome Your Anxiety

10 Ways to Overcome Your Anxiety

Date : 2023-03-30

Anxiety is a debilitating and overwhelming emotion that affects millions of people worldwide. While some level of anxiety is normal, excessive anxiety can interfere with our daily lives and lead to various health problems. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome anxiety and manage its symptoms. In this blog post, we will explore ten effective strategies for managing anxiety and the benefits of peer support groups for coping with anxiety.

  1. Exercise Regularly: Exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage anxiety. Regular physical activity can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost self-esteem. Even a simple 30-minute walk or jog can make a significant difference in reducing anxiety levels.
  2. Practice Deep Breathing: Deep breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety levels quickly. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down, and breathe in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this cycle at least three times to feel the calming effects.
  3. Get Enough Sleep: Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, so it’s important to get enough restful sleep each night. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and practicing good sleep hygiene can help promote restful sleep and reduce anxiety.
  4. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can both increase anxiety symptoms. Limit your intake of these substances, and consider cutting them out entirely if they exacerbate your anxiety.
  5. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation can help you stay focused on the present moment and reduce anxiety. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down, and focus on your breath. If your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention back to your breath.
  6. Seek Professional Help: If your anxiety is severe or interfering with your daily life, consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional can help you develop effective coping strategies and address underlying issues.
  7. Stay Connected with Loved Ones: Social support is crucial for managing anxiety. Stay connected with friends and family members, and consider joining a support group.
  8. Challenge Negative Thoughts: Anxiety is often accompanied by negative thoughts and self-talk. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if they’re rational and evidence-based.
  9. Engage in Hobbies and Activities You Enjoy: Hobbies and activities you enjoy can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, as well as distract you from anxious thoughts.
  10. Talk it Out: Anxiety can make you feel isolated and alone. Many people have found that talking to their peers who are going through a similar experience is extremely helpful because it helps them feel seen and heard. Peer support groups, like ShareWell, can be a valuable resource for people living with anxiety. These groups offer a safe, non-judgmental space for people to share their experiences, seek support, and connect with others who understand what they’re going through. 

Anxiety can be a challenging emotion to manage, but there are many effective strategies for coping with its symptoms. From exercise and mindfulness to seeking help and joining a support group, there are many resources available to help you overcome anxiety and improve your quality of life. Remember, you’re not alone, and there is always help available. If you are looking for support, visit sharewellnow.com/anxiety and join one of our many anxiety-focused session today!

Some sessions include but are not limited to: 

  • Anxiety Peer Support hosted by Jack
  • Anxiety Support and Mindfulness hosted by Katherine
  • Self-Care Rituals for Stress and Tension hosted by Nimisha
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Leaving A Toxic Relationship: How to Build a Strong Support System

Leaving A Toxic Relationship: How to Build a Strong Support System

Date : 2023-04-19

Being single after leaving a toxic relationship can be a liberating experience, but it can also be challenging. Having a strong support system can make all the difference in helping you maintain your mental and emotional well-being. Whether it’s through friends, family, or community connections, having people you can turn to for support and encouragement can make a world of difference. Here are 4 things you can do to build a happy support systel after leaving a toxic situation.

  • Make an effort to connect with friends and family. Spend time with people who make you feel good, and don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it. Whether it’s grabbing coffee with a friend, or calling a family member for a chat, building strong relationships with those you love can provide a sense of comfort and security.
  • Join clubs or organizations that align with your interests. Whether it’s a hiking club, a book club, or a volunteer organization, these groups provide an opportunity to meet new people and form meaningful connections. Joining clubs or organizations can also give you a sense of purpose and belonging, helping you to feel fulfilled and connected to your community.
  • Prioritize self-care. Taking care of your physical and emotional health is crucial to building a strong support system. Whether it’s through exercise, meditation, or simply taking time to relax and recharge, taking care of yourself will help you maintain your mental and emotional well-being. By focusing on your own well-being, you’ll be better equipped to support others in your support system.
  • Seek out therapy or peer support. Having a trusted therapist and peer support group can be a valuable addition to your support system. Whether you’re dealing with past experiences or current challenges, talking to others openly can help you process your emotions and overcome your difficulties.

To summarize, having a strong support system is key to a happy life after leaving a toxic relationship. Whether it’s through relationships with friends and family, involvement in clubs or organizations, self-care, peer support groups, or community connections, building a support system can provide comfort, security, and fulfillment.

If you’re looking for a few self-care habits to boost your happiness when leaving a toxic relationship, give these three daily happiness boosters a try:

  • Practice daily gratitude. Expressing gratitude has been shown to do more than improve your mood. People who write down a few positive things about their day are healthier, more energetic, less stressed and anxious and get better sleep. The key is to make this a regular habit and do it with intention. Think about creating a small gratitude ritual. For example, every morning when you have your coffee you could think of three things that you appreciate about the day before.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Happiness is contagious. Researchers at Harvard found that each additional happy friend increases a person’s probability of being happy by about nine percent. If you’re feeling down, reach out to a friend or colleague who generally has a more positive attitude. Our brains have mirror neurons that will literally mimic what the other person is expressing.
  • Do small acts of kindness. Research has shown that spending money on others makes us happier than spending money on ourselves and doing small acts of kindness increases life satisfaction. Hold the door for the person behind you, smile at someone from the coffee shop, pick up your colleague’s favorite snack and leave it on their desk for them. Even the smallest nice gesture can make someone’s day, and yours. 

We hope this helps you to open up your life again. And if you’re looking for support groups, check out ShareWell. ShareWell hosts hundreds of virtual support groups each week so you can find the support you need, when you need it, and build a strong support system to live a happy, fulfilling life.

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How To Release Anger In A Healthy Way

How To Release Anger In A Healthy Way

Date : 2023-05-11

When you’re feeling angry, it can be hard to know what to do with all that pent-up energy. You might feel like punching a wall or screaming into a pillow, but those things can actually make you feel worse in the long run. So, what can you do to release your anger in a healthier way?

Studies have shown that expressing anger is better than suppressing it. This is a faster way to become calm and is deemed healthy by psychologists as long as it is expressed assertively and not with aggression. Releasing anger can help you refocus on the positives as compared to unexpressed anger which can lead to passive-aggressive behavior. Well-managed anger can be a very useful emotion that motivates you to make positive changes in your life.

Here are 5 research-backed ways to release anger:

  1. Talk it out: Sometimes, just venting to a friend, family member or peer, can help you release your anger. It can feel really good to get all your feelings out into the open and gain some new perspective on the situation.
  1. Write it down: If you don’t feel like talking to someone, try writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. You can say whatever you want without worrying about judgment, and it can be really therapeutic to get everything out of your head and onto paper.
  1. Try progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and then releasing each muscle group in your body, one at a time. This can help release tension and reduce anger.
  1. Take a break and a breath: Sometimes, the best thing you can do when you’re feeling angry is to take a step back and give yourself some space. Maybe you need to go for a walk, listen to some calming music, or just take a few deep breaths. Whatever it is, give yourself permission to take a break and focus on calming down.
  1. Visualize peace: Close your eyes and imagine a calm and peaceful place, such as a beach or a forest. Visualize yourself there, breathing deeply and feeling relaxed.

It’s okay to feel angry sometimes. It’s a normal and natural emotion, and everyone experiences it from time to time. The key is to find healthy ways to release your anger that don’t hurt yourself or others. So, next time you’re feeling angry, try one of these strategies or hop into a peer support session and see if it helps you feel better.

Remember: Letting go of anger takes time and practice. It’s important to be patient with yourself.

If you are looking for somewhere to start, join one of our peer support sessions today at sharewellnow.com/sessions

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