The Value of Friendships
F is for February and FRIENDSHIP by Lisa Butler:
Valentine’s Day holds a lot of mixed emotions. When most people think about relationships in the month of February they mainly focus on those with a partner, significant other or spouse. We’d like to offer a different perspective! Last year our February blog post talked about the relationship you have with yourself, a very core fundamental relationship we all have in our lives. This year we want to focus on the benefits of healthy friendships.
When I think about my friendships, I immediately think about the groups of friends I have from various stages of my life. Childhood, highschool, college, post college, work friends, friends I’ve made through my kids, etc. I also think about how friendships have changed throughout my life, especially after becoming a mom. There have been hurt feelings and lost friends but I try to focus on the relationships that remain a positive asset to my life. No two friendships are the same and they each provide different benefits to my life.
Healthy relationships take time and attention to stay healthy, which can be hard at times when you have other things going on. Motherhood can make maintaining friendships less of a priority. However, you might quickly realize you need your friends to survive the transition! Maybe we forget the value and benefit friendships can provide to us. Here is your reminder of ways friendships can benefit you:
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
Someone to do things you enjoy with
I feel as though I can’t write this blog without mentioning the giant elephant in the room that no one even wants to hear about anymore… COVID. Personally, covid has impacted my friendships. Obviously not being able to see friends face-to-face for a long time but also having differing opinions about covid safety or different levels of precaution. As someone who had a baby during the pandemic, I’ve found that some don’t understand varying comfort levels when it comes to socializing throughout different phases of the pandemic. I feel it's too soon to tell the lasting impact this will have on some friendships but I will work through that in my own time.
I share this because you might also be in a similar situation. Or in a phase of your life that you feel you don’t have many meaningful or beneficial friendships. I’ve had clients tell me that certain friends never reach out to them or don't invite them to do anything. I remind them that their friend may be thinking the same thing about them! I encourage clients to reach out to those friends and most often the response is positive.
During this stage of pandemic life many of us have made efforts to stay connected virtually, but you may still be feeling disconnected from others. A note from our blog last month suggests it can be beneficial to make an effort to have in-person interactions. Again, keeping in mind your comfort level in regard to covid. A client recently told me that she and a few friends bundled up and sat outside around a heater to share a glass of wine together and it did wonders for her mental health.
Some may feel finding local friends to rely on is the problem and I will say, you are not alone! I see other moms post on local Facebook groups saying they would love to make friends within their community. So don’t think something is wrong with you because many people are probably feeling the same!
Here are a few additional suggestions on how to make new friends and nurture existing relationships:
Staying in touch with people with whom you've worked or taken classes
Reconnecting with old friends
Reaching out to people you've enjoyed chatting with at social gatherings
Introducing yourself to neighbors
Making time to connect with family members
I hope this blog inspires you to reflect on your friendships, the effort you are putting into your relationships and how friendships can help with your mental health! Everyday is a new day and a chance for change. So reach out to someone who you know will bring joy to your day.