I had a scare last week when I received a message that one of my longest school friends whom I have known since junior school, had been taken to hospital with a very serious illness. Hearing that news spurred me into action and I immediately reached out to him to reconnect with him. But it did make me realize how many friendships I had been far too casual about and failed to stay in touch with other than the occasional text - for no reasons other than "daily life pressures!!" It's a poor excuse, but one many people reading this can relate to.
Here's a quick challenge for you - I want you to randomly reminisce about some of your old friendships, how long is it before you started smiling? And how did it make you feel? It took me only a couple of seconds before I started smiling and it made me feel good inside - a warm glow, a feeling of being happy and grateful that I have such good people in my life.
Evidence shows that....
Studies show that adults with strong social networks are at lower risk of medical conditions such as depression and high blood pressure. And there are a lot of other reasons why friendships are good for your well-being...
"A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam and for a brief moment its glory and beauty belong to our world. But then it flies on again and though we wish it could have stayed we feel so lucky to have known it."
Some important benefits of friendships
1 Enriches our lives
Our friends add vibrancy, give us joy and give our lives meaning and help us relax. They provide a welcome distraction from the everyday routine of our lives and give us something to look forward to.
2 Bring joy, laughter, uplift our spirits
When we see our friends, there is fun and happiness which obviously lifts us up and makes us feel better. If we feel lonely, or alone, spending time with friends makes us feel better.
3 Reduces our stress
This is especially true if we have had a bad day, or week or have worries that cause us to be stressed or anxious. Meeting our friends helps provide a respite and gives us a chance to set aside our woes for a little while. Friends provide a welcome distraction!
4 Helps us cope with traumas such as death, divorce, severe illness
I know from my experiences after suffering my heart attacks what a big difference my friends made in helping me to deal with these events. Friends give you support, encouragement and advice during difficult times. Compassion and empathy are much needed during difficult times and friends are a vital source of this.
5 A good source of advice
Friends can help you with dilemmas, and give you the confidence to do something new, maybe apply for a new job if you are hesitating or lacking confidence. They know you and care about you. They can be a great support to you and help with no expectation of getting anything back in return.
6 Helps build your resilience
Countless studies have shown that having a good social network of friends plays a big role in helping people become resilient. In turn, this will help improve your well-being.
I'm not saying every friend will and can do all the above - different friends have different strengths but that's the value in having a good circle of friends; each person gives you something which enriches your life.
Can I contact my friend if I haven't been in touch for years....will they mind if I do?
There can be a slight concern that making contact again with a friend after a lengthy absence might cause offence to the person you are contacting or you might risk rejection. However, this is not the case. So the answer is a resounding YES! Don't just take my word for it; recent research carried out and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, shows that recipients are glad and feel positive about hearing from old friends they have not heard from in a while. People are in essence social creatures who enjoy connecting with others. It doesn't matter if there has been a log gap since your last contact. It seems that they appreciate your effort to reach out to them.
Hopefully, this gives you more encouragement to re ignite contact with your friends - no matter how long the absence. Both of you will be glad you did!
Covid has had a big impact on people's ability to stay in touch with their friends and a lot of people have become more hesitant to resume or re-ignite their friendships. It has also increased people's sense of isolation and sense of loneliness. These are 2 very good reasons for reaching out again.
I hope I've shown there are many reasons to reacquaint and keep friendships alive. A quick message to your friends no matter how long it's been since you last made contact will be appreciated by them, probably much more than you think. Go on, do it, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!
Let me know how you get on as I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at info@XtraClarity.com