Saturday, January 25, 2014

Don't Put Your Friends On The Back Burner


by Mary Kennedy

    New research from UCLA has proven something we've always known. Friendships--especially friendships between women--are special. (Yes, I know I featured a dog and cat in the photo, but I just couldn't resist! Animals form strong bonds, too.) Friendships between women are deep and long-lasting and are vitally important for mental health. They help us deal with the day to day stress of our complicated lives, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage and relationships and help us develop a fuller understanding of who we really are.

A close female friend can understand you at a "gut level" and help you maintain emotional stability. The sense of being needed, being understood (and not judged) is crucial to our sense of well-being. A recent study showed that spending 45 minutes a week chatting with a close female friend can be as helpful as psychotherapy in easing depressive symptoms.

It's easy to put friendships on the back burner when we're overwhelmed with responsibilities, but that's a mistake. Friendships are a gift to treasure. Do you have a close female friend, a confidante, someone who is always there for you? I hope so, because she can make you feel happier, healthier and more resilient.

by Mary Kennedy

16 comments:

Lynda said...

Yes. I have a friend that I met in high school (40+ years ago) and we are still close now. I know that I can count on her when I need help or just someone to talk to. When I was going through a particularly difficult time, she called me every day, just to let me vent. And sometimes that's all you really need is someone to talk to who doesn't judge or belittle your concerns. While my family has not been there to help me through tough times (they are usually only around when they want something), she has always been there. That is a treasure that cannot be priced.

And since your cute pic includes a cat and dog, I should also add that my cats are a lot of comfort to me as well. They listen when I need to talk and snuggle with me when I need comfort. True, they are demanding at other times, but the comfort they provide is priceless. And when I have a room full of foster kittens - they can brighten even my most depressing moods.

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I have a few close friends but one of them has been my friend for 57 years. We have been though everything together. We live about an hour away from each other but talk on the phone 2 or 3 times a day. She has grown children living with her and I am alone. It amazes me that we can talk for about 30 or 45 minutes so many times each call. I don't know what I would do without her. I really think friends are the most important things in life and help you stay balanced. I wish I could call her right now because I can't sleep for some reason.. So here I m talking to you....

mary kennedy said...

HI Lynda, I feel the same way. Cats--or any pets--are so comforting. I have a psychologist friend who always asks her patients if they would allow her dog to sit in on the initial session. (the dog is a yellow Lab, very well behaved.) Almost everyone says yes, and they even ask for the dog to be present at subsequent sessions. She did it initially to "break the ice" at the first meeting, but finds it gives her patients a sense of peace during the course of their therapy. Sometimes patients want to take a break while talking about difficult subjects and they take a time out and pet the dog for a few moments. (In case you're wondering if she brings her dog to work, she has her psychology practice in her home). Thanks so much for stopping by!

mary kennedy said...

Diane, that is fantastic that you have a friendship that has survived this long! It's wonderful for both of you. I'm sorry you're struggling with insomnia. I'm going to write about that topic for the February 8th blog. Next Saturday's blog is the first of the month and it's time for Ellery's fabulous cozy mystery contest! Just a quick word about insomnia. It's upsetting and frustrating not to be able to sleep but there are some behavioral strategies that work. And new research shows that if you can manage to lie in bed relaxed (not tossing and turning and stressed out), you can get 75% of the benefits of a "real" sleep. So take heart, and be sure to tune in for the Saturday, February 8th blog.

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

Thank you Mary. Best friend's name is Mary too. I did manage to sleep for about 5 hours and just got up at 9. Seems to happen to me once or twice a month.
Cat slept fine. LOL

mary kennedy said...

Diane, try to figure out what is "different" about the nights when you can't sleep. Don't forget the new guideline is "no caffeine after noon time." I have to admit I don't follow this rule, but I should. First they said "no caffeine after 6:00 pm," then they said, "no caffeine after 3:00 pm," and now they've moved it up to noontime. LOL about the cat sleeping well. I can so relate!!! These fur babies spend their time snoozing away, not a care in the world.

Lisa Ks Book Reviews said...

I have a friend I will have known for 25 years in July. We have been through ups and downs and even went about 5 years not talking over something that had happened, but found our way back. I love her and her family dearly, even though 80% of the time I am around her, I find myself stressed because she can be very demanding or as my sister calls her "toxic". So, I still talk to her via phone, text and Internet, but spend less one on one time with her.

On the other side of things, I have a friend I have never met face to face. I met her though FB. I feel like I've know her my entire life. Everything just clicked between us. I live in DE and she lives in NM. I'm saving up to go visit her. She swears we were sisters in another life. Our bond formed quickly and strongly and I know we will be life long friends.

mary kennedy said...

Lisa, that's really interesting. I have very close "e-mail" friends too. They totally "get" what's going on in my life and I'm so grateful for them. Thanks for stopping by.

TM said...

Mary: What a nice blog (including the pet pics). I have several life-long friends and I don't know what I would do without them being there when I need them. One is actually my aunt, who is only four years older than me, so we grew up together. My sisters and brother and I are close, too, so it's great to have their friendship along with them being family. Like Lisa, I have friends I have never met face-to-face (like you). But they are as much a part of my life and happiness as the ones I do see often. They, too, are always there for me, and it gives me just as much happiness to be there for them in return. And, of course, I include my pets in my friendships and family. They are such a part of it. Cool about your friend having her dog in her sessions. I love reading stories, too, about people who take animals to nursing homes to cheer up the residents.

I wonder sometimes about men. Some do seem to form friendships, but they just don't seem to be as good for them as women's friendships are for each other. As I age, I don't see the friendships that men do have lasting like women's do. Some men sort of seem to pull back at times when their male friends are having problems rather than stand by them. Wonder why that is?

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Wonderful post, Mary! A good friend of mine (31 years) died this year and while I got to spend quite a bit of quality time with her at the end, I regret every time I was too busy to get together over some of those years.

On a more cheerful note, my 'oldest friend' - we met in Kindergarten, hates it when I introduce her as my oldest friend. Why is that? Snort.

Hugs,

MJ

mary kennedy said...

Mary Jane, so sorry about your friend. Hugs. That is a huge loss. I know you're glad you had her in your life all those years. LOL on your "oldest" friend. I was trying to think of another adjective you could use, but there isn't one that comes to mind. She *is* your oldest friend! thanks for stopping by!

mary kennedy said...

I think you're right, Trana, women seem to form deeper, more meaningful friendships. Men tend to form "activity-based" friendships. I know there are a few exceptions, but men don't seem to be as open to sharing their emotional life with other men. In fact, they would be LOL-ing at the term "emotional life." Women score higher on "empathy" levels than men, maybe that's why women can form strong connections with other women, even women they've never met in person. I'm so grateful for my on-line friends, "in-person" friends, and of course my pet friends. I always feel that time spent with them is "time well spent."
t

DogsMom said...

There are friends I grew up with and had in my life for 30 years but now we live across country from each other. Lives are busy and we don't pick up a phone or even email. But we still send old fashioned letters and to receive on is very special. On those rare occasions we are in the same town at the same time we can pick up a conversation as if we saw each other last week. I do wish those occasions were not so rare.

But I am in my 50s now and learning how to make new friends.

mary kennedy said...

I love the idea of "old-fashioned letters." They never go out of style and I'm always thrilled when someone sends me a "snail mail" note. It's very hard when old friends move away. And I know what you mean about "picking up the conversation" as if no time had passed. It's amazing, isn't it? That's good that you're finding new friends.

Aurian said...

Lovely post Mary, thank you. And you are so very right. I have one good friend living close by, and we share our bookaddiction. And another friend living further away, we talk perhaps 3, 4 times a year and it is as if we have spoken the other night, we can talk for hours.

mary kennedy said...

Aurian, I am so glad you have these wonderful friends. Whenever I have any good news, the first thing I do is pick up the phone. What's the use of good news if you can't share it with someone!