Social wellness is the ability to relate to and connect with other people in the world. A main contributor to your social wellness is your ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with family, friends and co-workers. So often putting the time into maintaining healthy relationships with friends gets overlooked because it can be time consuming, especially for a busy mom. A healthy friendship though can pay dividends to your health. Friendship offers companionship, support, counsel, coping mechanisms for trauma and gives you a sense of belonging and respect. Adults with strong social networks have lower risk of depression, high blood pressure, and have healthier body weights. Heck, some research even says you will live longer if you have strong friendships. Being a friend takes time, lots of time, and effort, lots of effort. Especially a long distance friendship. Since proximity is a huge factor in relationship building, a long distance friendship is going to take even more effort and commitment to maintain. The commitment to continue building memories with your bestie from high school is totally worth it. Do yourself and favor and don’t throw in the towel just yet. In this post I am going to share some creative ways to nurture your long distance friendships and help you reignite your social wellness.
Virtual encounters are more present and available now than ever before. This makes long distance no longer an acceptable excuse for why you don’t keep in touch with your friends in other zip codes. We have so many options at our fingertips. We just need to be brave and go for it. Get something on the calendar with your BFF today. What are you waiting for?
Host a fitness competition using an activity app
Let’s be real, what real friend doesn’t love a healthy competition with their bestie? This is a really good way to keep tabs on your friends and fuel your personal fitness motivations all at the same time. Apple Watch Activity App has really cool features that allow you to share activity. Open the Activity app on your iPhone and tap the Sharing tab. Anyone you invite from your contacts also has to have an Apple Watch. Once you're connected, challenge each other to complete activity goals. An easy fun one to do is to close all three rings on your activity. You can also invite someone to a week long competition to see who can earn the most points on the app in a weeks time. It’s not the only fitness app that promotes group competitions among your contacts. Strava, DietBet, and Fitocracy are other apps on the market that get good reviews depending on what you the user is looking for in an app.
Start a book club or bible study
A book club is the perfect way to connect with long distance friends. Reading together is intimate. It engages our minds on a deeper level opening up dialogue with a friend that is more thought provoking and meaningful. The conversations create new memories with a friend that we might not have otherwise made time for in the hustle bustle of life. Bookclubz app is a free website and app designed for book club management. More than 12,000+ book clubs use this app to message, poll each other, schedule meet ups, and track RSVP responses. Anyone who’s ever been married can appreciate that Bookclubz website and app is just as useful to book club users as The Knot website and app is useful for wedding planners.
Host a Virtual Meet Up
The pandemic accelerated our reliance on the internet and its ability to allow us to connect from a distance. Heck, we may have even been using it to connect with people who live in the same city as us lately. The point is that the innovation in the virtual events market is thriving, leaving you and I with very cool options for virtual get together with friends. For example, one of my favorites, is a virtual wine tasting. There are lots of choices out there as some are hosted by vineyards while others are hosted by sommeliers. The pricing varies sine some programs come with wine included while other programs require that you buy the wine separately. Masterclass is another cool virtual meetup space in which you and a friend could both join and then take a class together creating an opportunity for new shared experience. MasterClass requires an annual membership and the membership is an all access pass to all media outlets offered as well as all the class varieties they offer. Sometimes they run a buy one membership get one free which chops the membership price in half. Score!
Good Ol’ Fashioned Snail Mail
There is something so authentic about receiving a letter in the mail. Not exactly sure why getting a special letter in the mail is so pure, but at our house getting a handwritten letter in the mail gives us the warm fuzzies. So let’s get out the pen and paper and start practicing our cursive. The time and effort is worth it.
Exchange handwritten letters a few times a year
Like journaling, writing a letter can alleviate stress and anxiety and help manage depression. Using DM and Instant messaging leaves us lingering for instant feedback on whether or not our feelings are validated or not. We want people to “like” our thoughts and our posts. Letters can be a platform for our self-expression. In a handwritten letter there is no instant response to our feelings. When we write a letter we allow ourselves to let go of certain feelings and emotions as they leave our mind and are transferred to the paper we are writing on. This vulnerability is restorative to our mind and our emotional balance. Who better to receive our vulnerability on paper than our friends. I know someone who has actually started using old fashioned typewriters to write letters to people. She restores them to working order and then uses them to write letters. As a recipient of the typewriter typed letters, it is absolutely breathtaking to read. The messages almost seem to be more thoughtful and loving not because of the sentences or words used in the letter, but because of the time it took to create the letter. It’s so meaningful and thoughtful to be a recipient of such care and thought.
Send a hard copy of a photo to your friends - old or new
A picture is worth a thousand words. We all take plenty of photos. Last time I checked I had over 8,000 pictures on my phone. Sending hard copies of pictures to friends is a good use of time and energy on the social wellness spectrum. It is a seemingly small and yes, tedious, task but isn’t it lovely to receive fun pictures to hang on the fridge in the mail every now and then?! Even if it was a throwback picture of you and your pal from college something tangible like a printed photo is so thoughtful. Seeing myself together with a friend in a photo is such a good reminder that I have deep meaningful relationships with people other than my kids and my husband. So before you seal that envelope stick a picture inside.
The Ultimate Gesture - Get Together in Person
To keep a long distance friendship alive, committing time to see each other in the flesh is absolutely critical. As your lives unfold getting together is going to change, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop seeing each other all together. It shouldn’t be the thing you try to squeeze in at the last minute because you forgot either. Time spent together in person should be something you look forward to and anticipate.
Plan an annual or biannual holiday/vacation together
I suggest spending a holiday together either annually or biannually. For example, you could spend 4th of July together every summer. One year you host and the next year your friend hosts. By celebrating at the same time each year for the same holiday you can establish new traditions within your friendship that build alongside the memories you shared with them last decade. Old memories are great, but to keep a friendship thriving you have to continue to make new memories together.
Friendships are essential to our health
To reach self-actualization we are continuously pursuing growth and balance across all the dimensions of wellness. Each of the 8 dimensions dynamically contributes to our overall wellness. If we spend too much time focusing on one dimension we may inadvertently neglect other dimensions throwing our quality of life off balance. We cannot forget to make time for our social wellness. Moms are busy. I get that and I live that busy life too. There’s no way around the fact that life is busy. Finding time for socializing can be difficult, but the rewards are plentiful. I urge you to make your friendships and relationships a priority this week, this month, this year. Let’s face it we all need more socializing in our lives after the havoc of the pandemic in 2020.
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Kelly Hater, owner of Mama Bear Domain, has over 15 years of coaching experience along with a B.S. in Health Promotion specialized in Exercise Science.
She specializes in helping clients overcome mom burnout, providing a clear, decisive plan that leads her clients on a path of success. Her clients no longer let mom guilt steal their identity and goals. Moms deserve to be happy and live a fulfilling life. She personally has overcome overwhelming struggles herself. Get the accountability needed to take action. As a mom of two she gets it. Get your E-Book Mom, Open Your Eyes to Self-Awareness.
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