“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” -Misty Copeland

I just got back from a weekend with two other mamas, my ten-year-old daughter and their ten-year-old daughters.  (That’s 3 mamas + 3 daughters.) I had not had the opportunity to spend such extended hours with these two women, and I came away feeling enriched with additional insights, additional moments of laughter and wonderful women with whom to share my frustrations. My daughter was able to have her own experiences of connection with the other two girls.  We were investing in our friendships. It was good.

I have also recently been blessed to witness friendship in action with a friend whose seven-year-old son was recently diagnosed with cancer.  This friend has three other children.  This friend also had two jobs (before she recently left them to go full-time cancer bottom-kicker).  I have always known this friend to be passionate about facilitating community and advocating for true friendship connections.  It has been amazing to watch this person’s support system mobilize.  She asked for support. Her friends showed up to walk beside her and her family; and to carry any one of them if needed.

“See one or more friends and call me in the morning.”

This is a prescription I’m thinking about adding to my repertoire.  I’ve been highly impacted by the importance of friendships these past few months.  As an introvert who swings strong (like; strong introvert), it’s easy for me to see the benefits of my alone time. Additionally, all of the time lobbyers (kids, work, aging parents) and other barriers (growing apart due to changes in our lives, moves) can create havoc in the friendship-making and keeping categories.  However, it’s pretty clear that investing in our friendships is not only wise; it’s good for our health.

Not only do we have reduced risk of depression, high blood pressure and unhealthy body max indicator (BMI), the mayo clinic reports additional benefits from healthy friendships.  Healthy friendships:

• 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

When it comes to friends, think quality over quantity.  The point is not to add additional stressors to your life, but to allow yourself to soak up the benefits of connected relationships in your life.  If you’re feeling less than connected, reach out.  Ask someone you work with, or share an interest with, to get together for coffee (or to do something fun!). Investing in friendship yields healthy dividends in many areas of your life.

If you are foregoing holiday plans with family (for any myriad of reasons) consider reaching out to friends for a gathering.  It is a wonderful time of year to give thanks for our friends.