For many people, the support of friends and family helps during challenging times. We might find comfort and perspective in our talks with them. But sometimes, our loved ones may not understand our experiences or have enough time to talk. Support groups help fill this gap.

Support groups offer a safe space for understanding. People gather to share their stories and often find in doing so that they are not alone. They may find supportive connections, for a short time or a lifetime. And they may hear about helpful coping strategies.1

Support groups may be led by peers or mental health professionals. Group members usually focus on one area, like depression or living with a medical condition. If you’re interested in joining a support group, take some time to find the right group for you. Don’t hesitate to try a few groups to find where you feel most comfortable.1

You can also follow social distancing practices while getting support! Many groups now offer online support meetups. Mental Health America lists many resources to help you find support, including online groups. They also list toll-free, 24-hour hotlines. For details, visit


Get the Facts on Stress

#BestMe Corner

Experiencing stress is part of being human. But what is stress? How does it impact us and how can we manage it?

Stress is our reaction to any demand. Both our mind and body respond to stress. Hard day at work? Sick with a cold? Baby up all night? All these events can give us stress.2

Here are a few facts about stress:2

Stress may help us get moving when we need it. When we feel stress, our body responds by readying us for action. Our breath and pulse may quicken and our muscles tense. If we are facing physical danger, stress helps our body move quickly to get out of the way. If we need to get something done soon, stress may help us find the energy to finish the task.

Long-lasting stress may hurt our health. Our bodies are pretty good at handling short-term stress. But stress that continues over a long time can disrupt our healthy functioning. We may develop headaches or digestive problems. We may have trouble sleeping or feel angry or sad. If we don’t ease our stress, we may even develop high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, or anxiety.

We can learn to manage stress. Try these steps to help reduce stress’s harmful effects:

Notice what you’re feeling and why

Exercise regularly to help burn off any excess energy and improve your mood

Relax regularly, too. Set aside time for meditation or deep breathing.

Decide what needs to be done now and what can wait

Talk with your loved ones about what you feel. You can also talk with your primary care provider (PCP).

If stress has you feeling overwhelmed, talk with your PCP. They may be able to help. If you are having thoughts about suicide, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) right away. You can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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1“Find Support Groups,” Mental Health America,

2“5 Things You Should Know About Stress,” National Institute of Mental Health,

All images are used under license for illustrative purposes only. Any individual depicted is a model.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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