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by Nadia Kumentas June 08, 2016

national best friend day, affect health

It's national best friend day! What a perfect time to reflect on all the amazing friends you have in your life whether they are humans, animals, your mom, your iPhone, or your plants. 

 

WHY YOU NEED FRIENDS

This isn’t breaking news, but it has been proven time and again through several studies that having a network of supportive relationships contributes to psychological well-being. When you have a social support network, you have:

  • A greater sense of belonging.  Spending time with people helps ward off loneliness (obvi!). Whether it's other new parents, dog lovers, fishing buddies or siblings, just knowing you're not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress and giving you a sense of comfort.
  • Increased stress management/coping. Smooth seas never made a skillful sailor...but no man is an island!! (like what I did there!?).  Everyday stress is unavoidable and having a healthy social network helps you cope with the ebb and flow of life’s challenges.
  • Increased sense of self-worth. Having people who call you a friend reinforces the idea that you're a good person to be around and that you bring something to the table!
  • Feeling of security. Your social network gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of necessary life help should you need it (and LAWD don't we all). It's comforting to know that you have people you can turn to in a time of need.
  • Someone to show your cat pictures to. Science has also shown sharing cat (or dog, ferret, hedgehog, goldfish, plant) pictures with friends makes you a better person.  Seriously, it’s science.

DEPOSITS AND WITHDRAWALS

A successful lasting relationship is a two-way street. The better a friend you are, the better your friends will be.  A dear friend of mine had a beautiful metaphor for how the scales of balance work in a long-term friendship using the idea of a bank account. 

  • Firstly, you want to be making just as many “ deposits ” (ie spending quality time, lending a helping hand or ear, giving lots of love, being selfless, making and keeping plans, etc.)  as you do “ withdrawals ” (those times you are more in need, need a favour, make a mistake, flake out on a plan, run over someone with your car, etc.) to make sure you’ve got a healthy bank account
  • Secondly, you most DEFINITELY don’t want to go into " overdraft"  (i.e when you’ve made way too many withdrawals vs deposits and are now a liability).
  • Overdraft creates a completely unbalanced situation where it leaves one friend feeling used and abused and ultimately wondering how this relationship benefits them anymore.  
Obviously throughout the lifespan of a freindship there will be times where one friend needs more support than the other, and the hope is during your long history together that ultimately the books stay somewhat balanced.

    HOW TO KEEP YOUR FRIENDS

    I’m sure you’re thinking: PSHHH I’m a great friend. I have lots of friends and they all love me. Or maybe, I’ve been doing this friend thing for awhile now and I’m pretty sure I know the ropes.  

    Here are some lessons I’ve learned on being a better bestie:

    • Stay in touch. Don’t ignore that text or phone call, and make sure you are being the one to initiate too!  No one likes to have a text go unanswered, but see their friend just went on a liking spree on Insta. Answering phone calls, returning emails, and reciprocating invitations lets people know you care.
    • Don't compete. Comparison is the thief of joy! Be happy instead of jealous when your friends succeed, and they'll celebrate your accomplishments in return.  Everyone is at a different place in life and deals with different challenges.  Remeber that when your besties are killing it, you by proximity are killing it!
    • Getting lost in the “New Relationship Blackhole” .  New relationships can be AH-MAH-ZING, but don’t forget you have other relationships that are important too!  Most good friends understand the exciting newness you are feeling and have more than enough space for you to go off the grid for a bit… just make sure you come back to let them in on all the deets!
    • Getting lost in the “OLD Relationship Blackhole”. Same rules apply - remember  your relationship is a priority, but your friendships are also a priority and need to be treated as such! 
    • Be a good listener.  I’m talking REAL empty-cup, active listening.  The kind of listening where you don’t have a predetermined response already in mind before they are finished. The kind of listening that demands undistracted PRESENCE. Listen when your friends are speaking. Find out what's important to your friends.  Nothing will help them feel more heard and connected.
    • Don’t glorify “busy”.   I know firsthand that sometimes things get crazy and all of a sudden Monday morning has somehow time-warped into 7pm on Sunday night in THE BLINK OF AN EYE.  That being said, you can still take the time to make future plans, send them a quick hello, or even a few emoji’s. Work is important yes, but friendships are important too!
    • Know when a relationship has run it’s course.  Easier said than done, there comes a time when your bank account has been in overdraft too long and your bank may want to close your account or vice versa.  Acknowledge that your needs/wants/expectations of the relationship may be different than the other person’s and that is more than OK. Take the time to reevaluate what you’ve done to contribute to the winding down of the friendship and don’t force it.  Sometimes time and space can work wonders, and sometimes friendships just come to an end!
    • Appreciate your friends and family. Take time to say thank you and express how important your besties are to you (AKA TODAY)!

    I’ll be the first to admit that I can definitely drop the ball on being a good friend sometimes.  I think it’s important to know that people make mistakes, and it’s part of being a good friend to tell your besties when they need to GET IN FORMATION. My besties do a great job of giving me a little nudge when I need to pick up the slack, and vice versa.  

    All-in-all I’m very lucky to have the MAGICALLY AMAZING SUPER FRIENDS I do have and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am now if it weren't for them! 

     

    Cue cute slideshow... 

    affect health   affect health           affect health affect health

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Questions? Comments? Collaboration ideas?  Let's chat!  

    Nadia Kumentas
    Nadia Kumentas

    Nadia Kumentas is a naturopathic doctor, tea drinker, yoga doer, animal lover, and plant enthusiast.



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