Socializing is hard for me.

As an introvert, being in a crowded room has always been a sure fire way to get me hiding in a corner, clicking my heels while mentally repeating, “There’s no place like home.”

Unfortunately, as an adult, there are many times when I have to buck up, leave my issues at the door and put on my game face. I smile, I chit chat, I laugh and then I spend the next three days locked indoors so I can recover.

Yet, as hard as socializing can be for me, there is nothing more energizing than spending time with friends. We laugh, we talk about our lives, we laugh at ourselves and each other. We reminisce about our younger years. We also debate, and sometimes, we have uncomfortable conversations. No matter, I usually return home, happy, fulfilled and inspired.

Sadly, I don’t get to hang out with friends as often as I’d like. Kids, jobs, projects, responsibilities, and our unwillingness to get out of yoga pants all keep us from meeting up in person regularly.

We try to make up for it by liking our Insta posts, or texting when we need advice or just want to say hi. I love these spurts of interaction and sometimes that’s all I have. But it’s not the same nor is it as powerful as being with them in person.

We need to make more time for our friends and if it’s something you’re struggling to do, here are a few reasons why.

Friends reduce our stress

Hanging with your friends can be just as stress-reducing as a massage. And, there’s studies to prove it.

New studies on the effects of stress show that when women are stressed the release of oxytocin produces a reaction very different than what happens in men. Unlike men’s fight or flight tendencies, when women are under pressure they yearn for connection. If we don’t give in to our needs to bond with others, our stress increases as do the negative physical and mental effects stress can have on our systems.

So, the next time you’re upset or faced with a stressful situation, take care by connecting with a friend and talking it out.

Female friends can boost our careers

With a little help from our friends we can progress our careers farther and faster than we could alone. That’s why we all need friends at work. They’re there to cheer you on and inspire you to go after new opportunities. They provide a sympathetic ear when we need it and they can offer hard-hitting feedback even when we don’t.

Having a friend at work can do so much more. Commonly, women don’t get much airtime in meetings and when they do speak many times their voices are drowned out. Having a friend in the room can help you get the airtime you deserve and then make sure you get credit for your ideas. And, since women generally aren’t very good at promoting their good works, they can publicly acknowledge your successes.

So, if you’re at all thinking you don’t need any more friends. Think again and find a tribe of friends at work.

Improve your mental health

Mamas – may they be new to the game with a newborn at home or those more seasoned juggling the everyday demands as a parent at one point or another experience overwhelming feelings.

And, one of the easiest cures is to social with friends. Interacting with others even for brief periods in a day or week can decrease feelings of depression, counteracts loneliness and help reduce feelings of helplessness and ineptitude.

Being a friend is even better

You know what’s better than having friends? Being a friend.

There are countless studies to understand how giving to others benefits our physical, emotional and mental well-being. And, when we give to our friends – be it our time, attention, love – we almost instantaneously boost our energy levels. We evoke a greater sense of gratitude for the people in our lives, and we feel happier and healthier than before. Plus, looking to how you can help others, is always a great way to put our own troubles into perspective.

So, there you have it. Four really good reasons to reach out to a friend and finally set up a time to hang out together.

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