You know that eating well, drinking lots of water and exercising will keep you healthy. But, did you know that your friendships can be just as important for maintaining your health and well-being?
Many studies have shown that the impact of positive relationships in our lives can be astounding. Friendships and positive social interactions have been shown to reduce the risks of depression and high blood pressure. Researchers have even found that friendships can contribute to a healthy Body Mass Index.
Friendships are a two-way street. The best friends are those who pick you up when you’re down, and trust that you will be there to do the same when the time comes. They understand all of your quirks and love you anyway. Often, friends are the ones that know you even better than your own families do. The support of a true friend is something that you should not underestimate. That’s why it is so important to cultivate healthy friendships.
Do you want to know more reasons why friendships are so important? Good friends can:
- Boost your sense of belonging
- Increase feelings of happiness
- Reduce your stress and anxiety
- Improve your confidence
- Motivate you to achieve more than you think is possible
- Help you cope with difficult life issues like death, divorce and health problems
- Celebrate your successes
- Tell you when you aren’t treating yourself well
- Make life more fun
With so many positive benefits of good friendships, why can it still be hard to make new friends and nurture your current ones? Work, family and all of your other obligations can get in the way of growing and strengthening your other relationships. As we get older and making new friends becomes increasingly more difficult, it’s worthwhile to see how you can enhance your current friendships to keep them rich, resilient and robust.
Let’s explore four practices that you can start today that will help your friendships flourish!
4 Practices for Nurturing Your Friendships
Take on a challenge together.
There’s nothing that bonds people more than tackling something really hard together! The act of working toward a shared goal creates a more profound sense of connection. Not only can you hold each other accountable, but you can support each other through the hard parts, and celebrate your successes. There are so many options here! Sign up for a race, commit to a volunteer project or take a class. You could even commit to reading a book a month. Not only can you keep each other on track, you can explore new topics to discuss.
We’re all busy. It can be tough to carve out the time to talk on the phone or meet up in person. The truth is that even simple acknowledgments can make a huge difference in someone’s day. A text, email or a quick FaceTime session can be enough to let the other person know that you are thinking about them. Catching up on the small, day-to-day minutiae can help you feel close, even when you’re far apart. Make a point to connect to your friends every week.
Make time for each other.
If something is really important to you, you make sure you plan for it. After all, you do that for the gym, the kids and even your work deadlines. Do the same for your friends. Put some dates in the calendar where you can get some quality one-on-one time. Whether it’s in person or online, scheduling time together helps you feel and stay connected. Research has shown that quality time with friends can leave you with an emotional boost that lasts far longer than the interaction itself.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
One of the hallmarks of a good friendship is the ability to be fully yourself, warts and all. When you share your challenges, insecurities and fears with a friend, it helps to strengthen the relationship and build trust. Vulnerability opens up communication in a way that nothing else can. Being honest and open about your problems with a friend can give you a new perspective and help you work through your issues. And, when you are open with someone, it permits them to be more open with you as well.
How Do You Nurture Your Friendships?
When we talk about self-care, it’s not just about bubble baths, meditation and nature walks. Nurturing your friendships is an important way for you to take care of yourself. And when we take care of ourselves, we are better able to take care of others. How do you keep your friendships going strong? Share your tips with us below.