OpEd: Why Great Friends Are Good For Your Mental Health

Early this week, I had the opportunity to escape to one of my best friend’s homes in the western suburbs of Chicago. Now listen, this is a far ride from where I live but the good vibes, great conversation and the positive energy that she and her husband always provide makes the drive well worth it. What I love most about it is that I get to spend time with their beautiful children as well as my son getting the opportunity to love and share time with his extended village. That day provided me with all the reassurance on why great girlfriends are good for your mental health. Simply put, great friendship is my lifeline. I live to show up for the moments of laughter, joy and sometimes sorrow that comes with being a friend. I live to model that for my son as being a part of the human experience and connection.


Everything in my soul knows that I long for my version of the friendship bonds as seen on television shows such as Living Single, Girlfriends, and even the latest hit series Harlem. I believe that female friendships are a non-negotiable piece to our evolution in womanhood. A good friend is a truthful and present cheerleader as well as a much needed tissue to wipe any tears that may fall. As my bestie and I were toasting our chocolate martinis in celebration of the new year, it clicked for me that I had finally arrived at a healthy and whole level of friendship and was no longer in search of belonging.


Prioritize Sisterhood

In this new year, my prayer for us all is that we make time to prioritize sisterhood. This form of self-care is essential and is oftentimes overlooked because “life be life’n”. We constantly put off caring for ourselves and our friendships because we have this unspoken notion that they should just understand. My blood sister taught me that just as in any relationship, friendship takes seeding and watering in order to reap a beautiful harvest. How can we expect transparency, authenticity, and joy when those seeds haven’t been planted early on in the relationship?


Sisterhood takes check-ins, dates, phone calls and everything in between. Whether a new friend or a seasoned friend, I challenge us all to schedule a quarterly date for 2023. Pull out that calendar and send that invite for a “Quarterly Sister Meet Up” whether it’s a coffee date, a movie date or playdate with the kids. Prioritize the time to see your friends this year. Your soul needs it more than you know. If you can, take on the challenge to not miss birthdays, celebrations of new jobs or career changes, home buying and any other moments that bring your besties joy! This year we are showing our friends that this bond is important to our well-being and that their friendship matters.


Friendship Is A Form Of Wellness

My biggest hope for us this year is that we release the limitations we have on health and wellness. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at how wellness lives in friendships. There is no greater escape than a heart to heart with a good friend or knowing who to call for a laugh when having a difficult day. Additional friendship escapes can consist of spa days, hosting a girls night in or out, or even starting a “good judy” book club with your close circle.


Wellness in friendship also means giving yourself the grace to know when you’ve overextended yourself. Oftentimes, we don’t exercise communication as we should in seasons where we’re feeling overwhelmed or out of sync. Because of this, it is easy to isolate and assume that we’re misunderstood. To avoid the effects of not speaking your mind, set healthy boundaries and keep it real with where you are.


Being rooted in having a healthy mind, body, and spirit allows you the space to thrive as a great friend. Wellness is honesty. You’ll be in a greater space to give sound advice once you take the time to relax, relate and release.


Learn How To Be A Friend

I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been a good friend. In my own selfishness of climbing the ladder, I wanted people to show up for me but I was not always present for their moments. In true life fashion, situations occurred and I learned the value of having a solid sister tribe.


Can we all just agree that being a friend as an adult is hard? Sometimes the best efforts and intentions fail for a variety of reasons. However, I had to learn where I thrive authentically in friendship so that I could unpack where I fit in my friends lives. For some of my friends, I am the girl they call for career advice whether they are looking to pivot or when they need to be reminded that they are a BOSS. Other friends call me for mommy advice if they are looking for activities to do with the kids or just a playdate. Then there are friends who call just because I crossed their mind and they want to make sure I’m good. It is important that we always take an honest look at the role we play in the friendships that matter to us.


This year, I want nothing more than for us to tap into making the time for friendship and sisterhood. Send that “Thinking Of You” card in the mail, randomly facetime your girlfriend, or even send a coffee gift card or bottle of wine if you know they had a rough week. If you truly want to see your friendships thrive this year, sow good seeds and watch it grow into a beautiful sisterhood.

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