This past month, I’ve been sharing posts about mental health. This final mental health post is about our need for connection.
Back in 2004, I was on mat (aka maternity) leave with my first daughter. Living in Canada, I had the privilege to have a full year of mat leave. (Now you can extend it up to 18 months – how cool is that??)
Anyhoo… as I was saying, I was on mat leave. I was a new mom with a perfect baby girl. I was healthy. She was healthy. We recently had moved into a brand new apartment. My husband was working primarily from home. On the outside looking in, things looked pretty sweet.
Except I was lonely.
Sure, I had friends. Except that my friends spent their days working and their evenings with their own family. They weren’t typically available for a morning coffee or to hang out in the afternoon. I couldn’t easily call them in the middle of the day to cry about how my daughter was on day 3 of no naps.
And if I’m being honest, I didn’t know how to reach out and make more friends. I’m a pretty strong introvert and at times can be shy/reserved. Add to that the hormonal shifts you experience after delivering a baby (postpartum, I’m looking at you!) and I was a bit of a hot mess.
Yes, I joined some mom groups. I was part of a La Leche group and I met a few moms that I met up with for coffee. I signed my daughter up for KinderMusik (awesome program by the way!).
But I was still missing “connection”. I was missing meaningful friendships. I had acquaintances. I didn’t have friends.
In the end, I survived that year of mat leave, went on to eventually build more friendships, and had a far, far more enjoyable mat leave with my second daughter.
So what’s friendship got to do with mental health?
I don’t think it’s a big surprise to anyone that a lack of connection can have serious impacts on our mental health. A quick Google search of “mental health and friendship” returns several articles that discuss the importance of friendship.
As humans, we’re hardwired for connection (Brene Brown uses this exact phrase in one of her many books). A strong, healthy friendship can impact your mental (and physical) well being. Having someone to share your thoughts, concerns, and stories with can lower your stress levels, lower your blood pressure, and improve your general mood.
Essentially, friendship matters.
Will you be my friend?
So, not gonna to lie. Making new friends can be HARD. Putting yourself out there is scary and vulnerable.
➜ What if the person rejects me?
➜ What if they don’t like me?
➜ What do I have to offer to a new friend?
Everyone has these thoughts at one time or another. We want to be liked. We fear rejection. And we often question our worth.
The caveat is we CANNOT make new friends without taking some risk. Without being vulnerable. You need to be willing to share about yourself. You need to be willing to share your story and, equally, you need to be willing to hear their story.
If you’ve built friendships without being vulnerable or taking some risk, I hate to break it to you but they’re NOT your friends, they’re acquaintances. And there’s a huge difference. An acquaintance is someone you’re comfortable meeting up for coffee with at Starbucks. A friend is someone you’re comfortable meeting up for coffee with in your messy kitchen with last night’s dinner dishes still in the sink.
Friendships allow you to be seen.
If you’re in search of new friendships, there are a multitude of ways to seek out new friends. You could join a community group that you’re interested in. If you like to hike, join a hiking group. If you like to knit, join a knitting group. If you have children, get to know the parents of their friends. If you have pets, seek out a pet club. The options are limitless.
Now to you!
⭐️How have your friendships improved/enhanced your life?
⭐️How do you make new friends?