I wish I’d stayed in touch with friends. To be quite transparent, this is a hard one for me to write about. When it comes to the friendship department, I struggle significantly. For the longest time I told myself it was because I was introverted and shy. But ask my friends from grammar school and I would’ve never in a million years fit into the category of shy or introverted. I also told myself my shyness is warranted because of significant life experiences that altered my ability to trust openly and without filter, so I never really learned to form secure attachments with friends. But that’s just an excuse. I’ve made many mistakes in this arena. I’ve lost a lot of friends because of my own insecurities. And I may find it much more difficult to let people into my life than to finish a thesis or dissertation, but I know the significance of friendships. And even on my most introverted days, I crave time with others and value my closest friends. I’ll always hold memories of many friends from childhood near and dear to my heart, no matter where I may stand with them now. But that doesn’t mean I wish I would’ve done things differently or that I didn’t learn from my experiences.
Recently, I’ve been lucky to meet some of the dearest people I know. I’ve formed so many wonderful friendships that have helped me to heal my own scrapes and bruises. It was a long-time-coming. If you’re not convinced that you need to form and maintain strong bonds, hear this. Scientists have found that one of the top factors in determining life longevity is the number of friendships someone has. That is, the more friends you have, the more likely you are to live longer. This is true for friendships outside of the familial relationships. What other benefits might you see in those that have lots of important friendships? People with a strong network of friends have increased cardiovascular health, fewer immune problems, and less cortisol.
What can you do to improve this area of your life? We are #hivecreatures after all, and having a significant tribe and community around us is and has always been pivotal to our survival.
1. Schedule routine dates with friends.
2. Call them just to say hi and spread cheer.
3. Rely on friends for support.
4. Engage in physical exercise and increase accountability for your health.
Which of these might take more time and effort for you? How will you add this to your life?