health in friendships

Today I’ve been reflecting on the power of friendship and it’s effect on our mental and physical well-being. I came across this Australian study which suggests that people who have a large network of friends outlive those who don’t by 22%. If that’s not incentive to build and maintain relationships, I don’t know what is! How could this be so? Well, it sort of makes sense. Friends elevate confidence, self-esteem, and support us in our highest and lowest places. They have the incredible super-power to deflect, absorb, and distract us from some of the nasty blows that life sometimes dishes out. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can cause weight gain and trigger auto-immune diseases when elevated. Close friends have been shown to reduce cortisol levels by helping us relax … so we can re-discover an equilibrium.

While at the gym yesterday evening, I missed three phone calls from my dearest friends. Daniel commented, “What in the H-E-double hockey sticks is going on?” If I missed calls from John, Nick, and JR all on the same day I’d be like what the…” If there’s something men will just never understand it is – women.

It’s been decided. I’ve been in job limbo leading up to the big move, so my friends should be too. If you have ever played phone tag, you know how it goes. Katelyn, Brittany, Clarisa: I know the evenings are busy for all of us, so if you would kindly make yourself available between 10am and 3pm that would be much appreciated. It’s not like I’m asking you to fly out here for coffee (although that’s not such a bad idea) – simply, quit your jobs, all of you.

Am I being dramatic?

I’m kidding of course and I know full well that at least half the time the never-ending game of phone tag my fault – and I don’t even have an excuse these days except that my fingers might be covered in un-cooked chicken juice or knuckle deep in biscuit dough. Our friendship is such a beautiful gift, and it pains to miss the gooey details of your lives like what you’re having for lunch or whether you’re cramping this week. You know, the important things. Katelyn, I want to know what colors you’ve decided on for your new home and how those turquoise frames we bought together are working out for you. Brittany I can’t wait to get an update on the latest wedding details and all your kiddies at school. And Clarisa, I want to laugh with you about how our lives continue to be completely different, yet exactly the same. You know what you mean.

I blame all this mushy thinking about the wonderful gift of girlfriends on a magazine I was reading (on the treadmill) the other day. I was sucked into an article describing one woman’s desire to have baby, but a disease made pregnancy life-threatening. That’s when her girlfriend stepped up. She had two kids of her own and wanted her best friend to know the joy of motherhood. She offered be a surrogate and carried her best friend’s child with grace. How amazing and wonderful is the gift of a woman’s friendship!

Anyhow, that article got me thinking about how lucky I am to have such incredible girlfriends. I am sad that we live so far apart now, and that I’m about to make a move even farther away. It makes setting aside time for them that much more important. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own busy lives and put off that phone call for one more day. So that’s why I am making it my early new year’s resolution to be more intentional with these precious friendships. A visit isn’t always practical, so it’s important to set aside some form of quality time for just “us girls.” And now that I’ve found out it could improve my health and lengthen my life, I’m going to start buzzing everyone I know.

Now, off to call Clarisa. It’s my lucky day – she’s home sick from work! Of course, I don’t delight in my friend’s sickness, however I’m happy for a daytime chit-chat. I just hope she’s not sleeping!!

college throwback

college throwback

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