Wellness Blog

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International Day of Friendship

“The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. The International Day of Friendship is also based on the recognition of the relevance and importance of friendship as a noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world.”

Humans are social creatures, wired for connection and friendship. This is an evolutionary trait because, throughout human history, our ability to survive has been contingent on our ability to work together cooperatively. 

In the modern era, our dependence on each other for survival may not be as readily evident, but we remain in need of one another nonetheless. Not only for our survival and physical well being but also for our mental and emotional wellness. 

Loneliness is reportedly linked to health concerns like depression, heart health, blood pressure, and more. The reality is, having a community and strong friendships that you can rely on when times get tough is crucial to mental and physical health. 

The International Day of Friendship is an excellent time to reflect and assess our own social network. What friendships and supports do we have that can we celebrate? Where do we see opportunities for growth?

Many of us can have a hard time finding friends, especially when we become adults. Often this happens because we fall into the trap of believing that friendships are something that just happens, not something we have to work at. 

When we think of the friendships we had as children, it is easy to think of these friendships as bonds that were easily formed. But we forget that the spaces and places situations we occupied as kids like school, clubs, and summer camps forced us into the consistent connections needed for friendship to blossom. We need to remember that it took time and repeated interactions to create meaningful connections in childhood, and the same is needed to make friends as adults.

It is also helpful to be aware that there are different levels or types of friendships and that all of these types of friendships are valuable and needed. Who in your life fits into these friendship categories? (adapted from https://personalexcellence.co/blog/new-friends/)

 

“Hi-Bye” Friends and Acquaintances

These are the ones you see at school/work because the context calls for it. You say hi when you see each other, and you say bye at the end of the day, or some chit chat in the lunchroom, but that’s about it. The relationship never lasts when the context is removed, i.e. when you graduate from school or leave the workplace.

Regular Friends

Social activity buddies you meet up every now and then to catch up or hang out with. Often these two are associated with a place and space, for example, your yoga class buddy, or the other parents at your child’s hockey practice. 

Soul/Best Friends

People you can talk about anything and everything with. You may or may not meet up every day, but it doesn’t matter as the strength of your friendship is not determined by how frequently you meet up — it’s more than that. These are the friends you can trust to be there for you whenever you need them, and they will go the extra mile for you.

 

Ideally, we have a few people in each of these categories. Do you have a friendship category you would like to expand? Start small with people you know, be open-minded, and make the effort it takes to stay in touch. It’s worth it!

 

Resources

Book: Friendships Don’t Just Happen by Shasta Nelson

Why Do We Need Friends? Six Benefits of Healthy Friendships https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/201710/why-do-we-need-friends-six-benefits-healthy-friendships

Schedule Your Next Girls’ Night, Because Friendship and Community Are Indicators of Mental Health https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/importance-of-friendship-mental-health/

10 Tips to Make New Friends https://personalexcellence.co/blog/new-friends/

International Day of Friendship – July 30 https://www.un.org/en/events/friendshipday/