Recent research has added yet another reason for us to invest in the people around us more than simply waving hello.  In addition to lowering our stress levels and physically adding years to our life, having friendships, especially for women, actually produces oxytocin, the hormone that calms us and makes us feel happy. (source)

So the key is in discovering ways with our over-burdened schedules to enjoy our friends.   

Here are two ways to do this: 

  1. Make a regular time within your schedule for “girl’s night” or “boy’s night,” and 
  2. Make friends where you already spend a lot of time.  

The first suggestion is a lot more difficult because it involves other people’s calendars, but once accomplished is highly sustainable. The tactic I have chosen for getting to see my friends more often is to lock in certain dates throughout the years with people from out of town, and offer regular  spontaneous opportunities with my local buddies.  Another approach that helps is to be a “yes” person.  As much as staying home, watching TV and relaxing sounds fabulous, rarely do we regret being with the people we enjoy, even if it means a few less hours sleep now and then.  Just get up and join the fun! 

The second idea, making friends wherever you are, is harder emotionally because it requires risk of rejection.  The trick to reaching out to strangers is to imagine that they are also looking for new connections.  Worse case scenario is that they reject your overtures, in which case they would not be a good friend anyway.  In a work situation, ask what they do on their own time?  In an exercise class share a smile or sigh during the routine.  In your neighborhood, join the app, next door, which connects people in neighborhoods. 

No matter what you do, and regardless of the immediate outcome, even the reaching out builds relationships that can become your greatest treasure.

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By Jaynie Schutlz, Co-Founder, Retreat Central 
Jaynie Schultz created Garrett Creek Ranch with her mother more than 20 years ago. She served as the founding Director of Sales and Marketing and is involved in many non-profit organizations and leadership development programs.

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