Friends are good medicine. And when I say “friend” I mean a real, live, true friend. Not a Facebook friend, or a virtual friend, or someone who calls us a friend but is really trying to sell us something.
I have been reminded of the importance of friends and mental health several times recently. Once while reading Dr. Deborah Serani’s book Living with Depression, in which she recommends both “staying connected to social support” and “avoiding toxic people” as part of an overall plan for managing depression. I was also reminded of the good medicine friends can be while spending time with a dear, longtime friend the other day.
The problem is, many of us don’t make time to spend with the friends we have, and don’t invest in new relationships. It’s easy to get distracted with the other priorities in life: family commitments, work, exercise, household chores, etc. As we enter into the new year, I wonder how our lives might be improved by placing a priority on our friendships? Perhaps making a goal to spend purely social, fun time with a friend once a month, or once a quarter even would be a good start.
And what about those of us who don’t have friends, or don’t have the types of friendships we would like? Perhaps this is the year to make relationship-building a priority. Take a risk and talk to new people, engage in a new activity, or re-kindle an old relationship that has faded away.
Working toward good mental health can mean lots of things – focusing on friendships can be a free and fun way to do it.