Melia posted this graphic on Instagram earlier this week, asking, “What’s the first self-care essential you tend to sacrifice when life gets busy? Mine are down time and sleep.”
While I tend to sacrifice a little bit of everything when I feel overstretched – exercise, sleep, eating well, down time – what usually gets the axe first is social plans. It feels indulgent to meet up with friends when I have a lot on my plate.
The voice in my head says: Oh, you’re going to go have fun instead of doing everything else on your list? Must be nice to live a life of leisure!
But it’s not a luxury to make time for people who love and support and energize you. It’s a necessity. We’ve talked many times on the podcast about the importance of strong relationships in cultivating health and happiness. Science writer Lydia Denworth has a new book out called Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond that I can’t wait to read. She says in an interview with NPR:
Very few people understand that your social relationships can actually change your health. They can change your cardiovascular system, your immune system, how you sleep, your cognitive health…
We thought of loneliness as this difficult emotion, but just an emotion. And we think of friends as this lovely thing — but it is actually a matter of life and death. And there's this evolutionary drive to connect. People think all the time about competition and survival of the fittest, but really it's survival of the friendliest.
Well, when you put it like that!
This past week for me was full of quality time with dear friends: a happy hour hangout, a birthday celebration, a visit from a high school friend, a girls’ trip with my college roomie. Not every week will be so social, and that’s OK. But I feel grateful for those moments of connection.
Do you also tend to cut social plans when life gets busy? Think about one quick way you can connect with a friend in the next week: a lunch or coffee catch-up, a neighborhood walk, a kids’ playdate, even a short “thinking of you” text.
Give yourself permission to make your friends a priority – for your well-being and theirs.