Yesterday, while cruising facebook I was so incredibly touched by a post on one of my friend’s pages that one of her friends, also a mom, had made for her birthday. It was so truthful, and filled with love and honestly about their friendship. It also included a bunch of amazing pictures of their journey together. They are also both moms, and have clearly being through it all together.
It got me thinking about friendships and just how important they are for us to work on, maintain, value, enjoy, cherish and again work on. Like marriages, friendships can fall apart if you don’t commit and make the effort. Let’s be honest, some friendships are easier to maintain than others due to distance, lifestyle, and personalities, but the ones worth working on can be the most rewarding, with deep connection and love, like family members over a lifetime.
So it got me thinking, there must be some medical facts around good friendships. And of course, there are! Apparently friendships can have a major impact on your health. So I went to my favourite medical source to get the low down on health around friendships, The Mayo Clinic.
Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health
What are the actual health benefits around friendships?
Strong friendships are good for your health. Through good times and bad times, friendships can be the greatest support. They also:
• Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
• Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
• Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
• Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
• Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
Friendships take work and commitment!
Friendships involve give-and-take. It's as important for you to be a good friend, as it is to choose friends that are good for your life.
Nurture your friendships:
•Accept yourself. Cultivate a healthy, realistic self-image. Work on building your self-esteem by taking care of yourself — eat a healthy diet and include physical activity in your daily routine. Insecurity and constant self-criticism can be turnoffs to potential friends.
•Accept others. Don't judge. Give your friends space to change, grow and make mistakes. Encourage your friends to freely express their emotions. Don't belittle or make fun of what the other person thinks or feels.
•Be positive. Think of friendship as an emotional bank account. Every act of kindness and every expression of approval are deposits into this account, while criticism and negativity draw down the account. Nonstop complaining puts a strain on a friendship.
•Don't compete. Don't let friendships turn into a battle over who makes the most money or who has the nicest home. Instead, admire their talents and celebrate their good fortune.
•Listen up. Ask what's going on in your friends' lives. Let the other person know you are paying close attention through eye contact, body language and occasional brief comments like, "That sounds fun." When friends share details of hard times or difficult experiences, be empathetic, but don't give advice unless your friends ask for it.
•Respect boundaries. Keep confidential any personal information that your friends share with you. Try not to ask questions that make your friends uncomfortable.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
At the end of the day you would assume that this is all information we should just know right? Not always, and it’s good to remind ourselves sometimes about why we cherish our friends.
So reach out and love your friends. You need them, and they need you more than you think.