As the new year commenced, I, as many people do, looked back at the last year thoughtfully. The thing that struck me the most was how difficult it was. My daughter has struggled greatly with her mental illness, and this created enormous amounts of stress for me. When I reflect on how I made it through the most difficult times, I see that it was with the support of my friends.
This led me to thinking about how important friendships are to mental and physical health. A genuine deep connection with someone can make life’s ups and downs much more manageable, and can even help you live longer.
I’m extremely lucky to have met my best friend the first day of seventh grade, she has been my rock for the last 30 plus years. Every important event in my life, good and bad, she has been there, supporting, loving and guiding me. This friendship has made such an impact in my life, and shaped the person that I have become, it’s hard to imagine what life would have been like without her.
During adolescence, friendships are everything, but as we grow into adults they tend to take a back seat. Life gets busy with work, kids, spouses and family, leaving little time to dedicate to established friendships, much less cultivating new ones.
Increased stress levels have been proven to have negative effects on physical and mental health. Having someone to confide in is a key component for managing stress. I can’t imagine how I would have survived the stress of my daughters mental illness without the amazing support of my two closest friends. Not only did they help me make important decisions, they helped me laugh through the tears and move forward.
Friends can influence us positively, (or not). Good friends will encourage you to exercise, eat better, not to mention vet potential mates for you. Sometimes it seems that our best friends know us better than we know ourselves. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for Vanessa pointing out my destructive patterns in picking men, I probably wouldn’t have the solid marriage that I’m lucky to have today.
Just as good friends have positive health benefits, toxic friendships can negatively affect your health. Toxic people in your life can lower your self esteem, increase stress, and potentially cause you to make poor decisions. GET RID OF THESE PEOPLE!
In the new year, make a promise to yourself to remove all negative influences from your life. Surround yourself with people that truly care for and want the best for you. You will be surprised how much of a difference it can make in your daily thoughts and actions. Also, take time to nurture your friendships, make them important and value them, it just might add years to your life!