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The Healthy Benefits of Meaningful Friendships

A few weeks ago, I observed some of my long-time friends coming together for the funeral of the mother of one of those friends. I always knew that there was something exceptional about the group of people I would call my friends who would surround me during my formative years and now later in my life. As I observed all of us sitting together in a pew at our friend's mother's funeral, I remembered what true friendship is how beneficial it has been in my life and health.

These friends are the people who surrounded me when I was the new kid in a new town, now away from all my extended family and friends. God had a plan to cover me with these lifelong friends who became some of my extended family.

This past couple of weeks, we lost my mother-in-law. She was a genuinely wonderful person who served her family and friends so beautifully. It was another reminder for me that life is precious with our family and friends. I was blessed to hear and see so many people reaching out to me during this challenging time for my family. Again, I am reminded of how blessed I am with such beautiful humans in my life. A true friend is someone who sees your actual inner pain while everyone else might only see the outward smile.

Friendships are not always easy to build or maintain. Sometimes it requires us to be vulnerable, and maintaining friendships in a busy adult schedule can be difficult for many of us.

Having Good Friends Can Benefit Our Health:

· We feel like we belong and are part of the community

· Increases our sense of purpose

· Helps us deal with traumas in our life like illness, death, or loss of a job or business

· reduces our stress

· Makes us laugh and boost our happiness

· Encourages us and holds us accountable

· Reminds us that you we are enough building confidence and self-worth

Friends play a significant role in our overall health. Studies show that a solid social support system in your life decreases your getting significant health issues. Life expectancy has been shown in studies to increase in older adults with friendships.

How Do You Want to Build and Sustain Your Friendships:

Be able to discern when a friendship is not benefiting your health. Friendship is an even exchange of energy. When someone gives a lot more than the other in the relationship, it is one-sided and not healthy.

Other signs it might not be a healthy friendship:

· Someone is taking up all the energy, and it feels exhausting.

· You don't feel safe and supported.

· If you find yourself striving consistently to maintain the friendship.

· You are not growing with that person.

· When differences are not respected.

· It does not nourish and add to your life.

· You are drained, feel unhappy, and not uplifted after you are with this person regularly.

Nourishing and Sustaining Friendships

This work is an area that I would like to incorporate more in my life. As I chronically age, it is becoming more important to focus on building and nourishing authentically meaningful friendships. I have often said that I really enjoy being around someone that I can be myself, and when I am struggling, that person does not spiral down with me but instead listens, is honest, and inspires me. I have a few friends who are on this list. Now, to work on continuing to nourish those people in my life.

Helping Nourish Friendships:

· Be open and vulnerable

· Actively listen without judgment

· Reach out and let them know you care and appreciate them

· Be available

· Be Kind

What are you going to do today to nourish your friendships?

Brandy Lane Hickman, NBHWC

2B Well Integrative Health Collaborative, Owner

Inspired Nutrition, National Board Certified Health Coach, Kitchen Therapy

Board President, Missouri Nutrition Alliance Non-Profit

(417)861-6682 |


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