Want to Reduce your Stress and Improve your Health?
Spend time with your friends.
Currently I am away with a group of close girlfriends for a week. This is our eleventh year of going away together on holiday, no kids, no husbands, no housework. No worries? Well, we are women so we do worry. That’s why we have each other. We talk, we share, we give out wisdom and insight, we laugh, we cry and we have fun. I am so aware of how blessed I am. It’s rare for women to have a large circle of friends for such a long period of time, three of us have known each other for 15 years. Rare because we all actually get on and enjoy each others company. We like each other and that like has turned into a deep and love and respect.
We come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. We have gone through relationships, illness, cancer, deaths, births, menopause and we are there for each other. At the moment, on our week away, we are actually discussing what friendship means to us. What do we value in a friendship? Over the last eleven years we have kept a diary detailing our adventures, funny moments, bloopers, quotes and the journey of our lives. Our times together are punctuated with hilarity, crazy stories, good health tips and words of wisdom. This article comes out of those discussions and journal entries .
Summary of our times away:
1: Your friends know you pretty well and their advice is usually pretty accurate.
Your friends can see clearly when you are in a fog. The questions is will you listen to them?
2: You can receive great advice but will you suck up the pain and see it through; you are responsible for the next step.
Will you make the time to see the doctor, specialist, counsellor, confront that family member, take that medication, will you learn when to say NO.
“The willingness to accept responsibility of ones own life is the source from which self respect springs”.
This quote form Joan Didion sums up our deep conversations concerning a woman’s constant need to please. We have decided that we need to look after ourselves first, and to stop saying SORRY. There is a huge difference between being a healthy kind of nice and giving yourself away. “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everyone”- B. Cosby.
3: Laughter is a key ingredient to friendship.
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems (Reference).
Why have friends?
Researchers at Harvard Medical school say that the more friends you have, the less physical impairments you will develop as you age and the happier you will be.
- Good friendships give you stronger immune systems, you are less likely to get infections and diseases due to lower stress levels (1).
- Levels of progesterone – which benefit your health and reduce stress – were found in women who chatted with each other for 20 min.
A word from the girls:
I opened a page in our journal and asked the girls to write down some things that they value about friendship.
What do you value in friendship?
- being genuine and real
- love and care for each other
- fun and laughter
- no judgement
- commitment to work things out
- knowledge that you are in it for the long haul and that we will all have times when things go wrong
This is what the apostle Paul says about relationships:
Have compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14
We couldn’t have said it any better.
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