Why Is It So Hard To Seek Support?

Feb 24, 2021 | Aussie Nurse

Having a strong support system within work has many benefits of overall health and wellbeing which includes having fulfilment within the work environment.

Knowing this, having positive coping skills as an individual is important, yet it is actually really hard to reach out for support when we need it

At work no matter what is happening its hard to focus on ourselves as there are many things that need to be done in the work day and as nurses we always have massive amounts of perseverance, it’s what we do. The workplace can bring forward many factors that can influence our emotions, we are all at risk at some point in our career of burn out or compassion fatigue. 

Out of the work environment there are many things that can become destabilising especially with the transitions of life that move quickly. Asking for help can be uncomfortable, many of us are independent and in some ways accustomed to managing ‘things’ in life as individuals. Seeking support is important but may mean giving up our vulnerabilities to someone else, that is tough especially when on the search for answers it actually takes a lot of courage.

“Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife”

– Tim Gunn

I know that I’ve never wanted to trouble anyone else as people have their own worries to take care of and it can feel that our needs aren’t significant enough. A person who I’ve admired for many years is Turia Pitt, she was on the TV and pointed out that ‘feelings are valid’, that resonated and reminded me that what you’re feeling is actually real!!

Seeking support means you are taking care of yourself by finding the right people to go for assistance, this may be from work colleagues, family, friends or even from professional support organisations. Each of these ways of gaining support will vary in the level of support they can provide, yet with discussing any issues you must have a feeling of being safe, trust and fairness to express your emotions openly.


What Is My Role?

Often its later when I realise that a work colleague has been having difficulties, these moments are unpredictable and its so easy to miss the opportunity to provide appropriate support- hindsight in some ways can be a funny thing.

I’ve been wondering what my role is if someone is facing or expresses a situation that is challenging or frightening for them and I question- What is the right support I can offer?

My largest apprehension is if someone asks for support and its not helpful, it can hurt another person a lot. I want to be able to offer support in a way that is not damaging and not to cause more pain to anyone else.

I’m realising that I am not trained to provide support in a professional manner. Yet my role as a work colleague is to offer a safe and compassionate response, I realise I need to try to be more aware by knowing where to find practical support resources and to add them to my nursing ‘tool belt’. 

In my limited way, I can- 

  • Debrief after difficult situations
  • Allow people to vent their frustrations
  • Share resources &
  • Be empathetic 

By providing practical support I endeavour to answer these 2 questions –

1. Know what professional resources are available to use if someone is needing help?

2. Recognise when it would benefit the person to seek outside help and support?

For any individual before even seeking support I think it takes time to understand the impact of a situation and then it takes time to gain confidence to express how we feel. The consequences of not reaching out could hinder healing, appropriate support is essential to help anyone to get through challenging situations and to reduce the effects of emotional, mental, physical injury or even illnesses.


In this blog piece I wasn’t sure how to fully articulate about seeking support,  I’ve attempted to write some thoughts about why it is important to never disregard our own feelings. Asking for help or support is not weakness, if anything it is strength and to find the support you deserve is to heal, as we all need to heal at times.

We all know that nursing is sometimes a tough career but most important is the longevity of your career that gives you sustenance and fulfilment for many years. Remember- be gentle to yourself.

Support – 

(Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash)

“I’m lucky to have a great support system in my friends and some of my family. If you have those people that you trust, go ahead and fall back into them and let them be your hammock and cocoon and let them embrace you”

– JoJo

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