Tips on living a healthy and full life

Caregivers: getting by “with a little help from my friends”

The experts tell us that friendship is as important to our wellbeing as physical exercise and eating well. Also, the power of friendship gets stronger with age. In fact, some studies show that, as we age, good friendships are a stronger predictor of health and happiness than relationships with family members.   Hmmmm. Do you think this is related to that saying, ‘you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’?? I’m just asking….

At Elizz, we conducted a quantitative research study, completed through Clever Samurai Research, which showed that 50% of daughters and sons caring for aging parents spent time with friends to feel a greater sense of emotional wellbeing.

Friends: perfect witnesses

My close friends provide just the right measure of what I need. They listen and listen and listen again, when I am trying to work something out. They consoled and supported me when my parents were in hospital and when they were dying. They listen and nod when I rant about something at work, something a family member said to me, and when I feel sorry for myself about all that I have to do.

“Things are never quite as scary when you have a best friend.” ~ Bill Watterson

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I                         thought I was the only one.” C.S. Lewis

My friends know my patterns, my, well, my flaws, and I can always count on them to be (painfully) honest. They tell me when enough is enough, when I need to give my head a shake, when I am being, well, a jerk and when I need to either let my negative s**t go or take some action to change things.

We have to be brave-the courage to be ourselves and get past superficial updates.  And the truth is -most of our so-called ‘flaws’ are abundantly clear to those closest to us.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still love you.”~ Elbert Hubbard

“A friend can tell you things you don’t want to tell yourself.”~  Frances Ward Weller

“Good friends help you to find important things when you have lost them…your smile, your                  hope, and your courage.” ~ Doe Zantamata

Close friends are more than unpaid therapists helping us weather the hard stuff in life, including relationships, sick kids, sick parents, money worries, deaths. They are also there for the good news stories and are thrilled when things work out for us. And of course, there is the sheer unadulterated fun we have together. In fact, I am able to laugh more with my friends than with anyone else. There are the wild shopping weekends that often involve copious amounts of red wine, to having a coffee together and laughing so hard we practically peed our pants.

“Good friends don’t let you do stupid things…alone.”  ~ Unknown

“We’ve been friends for so long, I can’t remember which one of us is the bad influence.” ~                    Unknown

“We’ll be best friends forever because you already know too much.”~  Unknown

How many close friends do we need?

This is not a numbers game. That is, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to friends. We really only need one or two friends that know and understand us. The friendships I have had the longest are the most valuable to me. We have weathered so much together.

Do we need our friends to be happy?

In a word, yes. We’re happier when we choose to spend time with happy people. I am not talking about ditching friends who are going through a painful time for whatever reason. I am talking about toxic friends who are extremely negative. You know the ones I mean- the friends you spend time with and you feel worse than ever after spending that time together. We need to know our friends are rooting for us and will be honest with us without being critical and judgmental. Otherwise, the friendship will be more depleting than energizing.

The best friendships of course are reciprocal.

“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.”   ~                Douglas Patels

Close friends are the gift we give ourselves. Connecting with friends is definitely at the top of my self care list.

What do you love the most about spending time with your close friends?


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