As women, we spend endless amounts of time focused on our other relationship goals from either searching for the ‘one’, dropping everything for a romantic dinner with your man or clearing calendars to make room for just family time. However, when it comes to developing our friendships, it often takes a back seat and we think that it will just happen and happen on its own….and when it doesn’t, we feel disappointed or regretful.
It is easy to fall into the trap of not putting enough effort or energy into our friendships. Usually our lack of friendship excuses reflect our current life situation: “It’s too hard to make friends because my kids are so demanding” or, “I miss my old friends and don’t have time to make new ones” or “I really need to just spend time with my boyfriend/husband right now”.
As human beings, we become so busy with our jobs, family, household chores, daily activities that we often neglect one of the most important aspects of life; friendships, the relationships that develop over time that hold a very special place in our heart and that society continues to ignore.
Friends are family members that we choose to allow and keep in our lives. From our first childhood friend to those lifelong friends we have known for decades; friends are treasures that can bring so much positivity into our lives but yet we often become too busy and neglect these important people. I am guilty of this as well!
When it comes to the art of friendship, sometimes we excuse ourselves from effort because we are too tired, too busy, too distracted with other things…the list is endless. All of these things are important but we don’t always realize that we are harming ourselves both physically and mentally by not investing in our friendships.
Studies have shown that good friendships can help reduce risks for health problems such as high blood pressure, depression and weight gain. Many studies have shown that adults with close friends often live longer. I’m not a scientist, but I do think that friends are vital to our health and success because they support our notion of belonging and we can pick and choose friends that support our life goals and direction.
If you’re looking to invest in your friendships this year, here are five simple tips from Classy Career Girl to get you going.
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5 Ways You Can Incorporate Friendships Into Your Busy Week
Remember Important Dates
Mark your calendar with specific dates of importance in your friends’ lives. The occasion can be anything: her birthday, the anniversary of her father’s death, her IVF egg retrieval day, the one-year anniversary of when you first got drinks. Send a text, a little present, or take her out for a celebratory dinner to mark the occasion. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way! Use this cute Day Planner by Kate Spade to help set up those reminders!
Don’t be Afraid to Go Deep in Conversations
Instead of just asking for a general update on her kids, try asking “How do you think motherhood has changed you as a person?” Or, “What are your goals and intentions for the new year?” Or, “When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?” As adults with too-full schedules, we don’t have endless amounts of time to gab with our girlfriends like we did in high school and college. Why not skip the small talk and go deep? You’ll both leave the interaction feeling more connected.
Initiate All The Time, and Don’t Take it Personally if Things Don’t Work Out
This one requires you to have good faith in a friend or potential new friend. If we come to the relationship with goodwill and a lack of self-judgment, we won’t be hurt or bitter if our girlfriend misses that scheduled phone call, or keeps giving us a “maybe next time” when we invite her out. Recognize that she’s busy (just like you!) and trying her best. Take a moment to mentally wish her well and send her love. Then try, try, try again.
Try a New Experience Together
If you always go out to brunch, switch things up: try a kayak ride instead! Is there a new Ethiopian restaurant in town you’ve been dying to try, even though you’ve never had Ethiopian food? Invite a girlfriend to come along. Visit that museum you’ve heard so much about; get a season theater subscription and ask a bestie to be your date. The more unique experiences you create together, the more connected you will feel. You’re only limited by your imagination!
Express Gratitude as Often as Possible
Who doesn’t love to hear that they’re appreciated? Don’t be shy in expressing your gratitude for your girlfriends whenever you can. Text to say how much that coffee meant, or how grateful you are that she let you cry on her shoulder after a bad breakup. The more gratitude you express, the more gratitude you feel. . .and the happier you become.
We deserve healthy relationships with girlfriends who will laugh with us, cry with us, and cheer us on. But we’ve got to put the time into developing those friendships.
Here’s to investing in friendships for the purpose of making us happier and healthier this year. Let me know what you think in the comments.