The other day I met up with a dear friend who is my soft place to fall. She encourages me to show up messy, tender and fully myself. She sees my creativity and generosity AND my tendency to be controlling and too goal-oriented. She accepts and celebrates all of me.
Everywhere I go lately, women are talking about friendships, connection and their desire for greater intimacy and authenticity with their girlfriends. They’re sharing they are letting some friendships go and deepening others. They’re getting clear on what they need from relationships-—particularly during these turbulent times. They’re seeing first-hand what a huge impact real, heartfelt connection with friends has on their quality of life, mental health and overall well-being.
A well-known UCLA study on female friendships found that these key relationships not only help reduce stress, but they also extend our lifespan and reduce the likelihood of physical problems upon aging. The study discovered that women have a natural reaction to seek-out their friends in times of stress (they called this “tend and befriend”), which helps them physically and emotionally return to home base. But friendships need cultivating, tending to and a willingness to “come as we are,” (not just when we’re on top of the world). But what happens when we get over scheduled or caretaking for others dominates our lives? We cancel lunches, walks and tea and wine dates—when these meet-ups are exactly what we need to help us navigate life transitions and tough times.
As a life balance teacher/speaker, I’ve been coaching women/men on the four areas of self–care (physical/emotional/mental and spiritual; one of the best ways to enhance balanced living)—and I’m always surprised by how often people neglect and overlook emotional self-care: the care and feeding of our hearts.
Emotional self-care is as important as eating nourishing foods and daily movement. Critical to this is seeking out and taking time to connect with friends who nourish us, and using discernment: knowing when it’s time to let friendships go and when it’s time to reach out and cultivate new or existing ones. This takes courage. It requires us to stretch. It’s part of our growth and evolution as spiritual beings. I can’t tell you how many heads nod when I bring up this theme at workshops/retreats; so many of us are still in old stagnant relationships that are draining us, rather than fueling us.
We need—and deserve—friends that let us show up “warts and all.” We need friends who encourage us to shine and are not threatened by our success (read more about Sisterhood) and we need confidants who provide refuge, a space for us to rest without having to prove, do or be anything to anyone. Consider:
- Which of my friendships truly nourish me, who would I like to spend more time with? Which relationships am I ready to lovingly release and let go of?
- Am I willing to create space in my week to make time with friends a priority?
- Am I ready to stop holding it all together, let go, be vulnerable and allow my friendships to evolve and deepen?
For the month of October I challenge you to focus on cultivating (or deepening) a new or existing friendship. Make this a priority; I’d love to hear your ideas on steps you’re taking to move “friend time” to the top of your list. And if this theme calls to you and you’re desiring greater Sisterhood, please join me for one of my upcoming October retreats or my new group for women in their 50’s (we’re lax on your age!). Community = medicine! Now, more than ever.
THREE UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES FOR MAKING YOUR SELF-CARE A PRIORITY:
- Oct. 14-16 ~ Awakening Your Wild Soul: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, the largest retreat center in North America and my fav (ALMOST SOLD OUT). I’ll also be here leading the same retreat Jan. 27-29! Learn more.
- Friday, Oct. 28th 9 ~ 4:30 Awakening Your Wild Soul One-Day Retreat- Laugh, renew in nature, enjoy deep rest, authentic connection and community with like-minded women. Learn more. Psst ….want to receive updates on special NC regional events? Email info at reneetrudeau dot com and ask to be added to our Wild Souls NC regional mailing list.
- **NEW! In-person group for women** Nov. 3-Feb. 9th ~ Re-Imagining: A Self-Renewal Group for 50-Something Women. Seven sessions + additional support. These are the conversations you wish you were having. The fifties are one of the most challenging and ripe decades for creativity and personal transformation. We need each other! Brevard, NC. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
for program details. OK to miss a couple of meetings.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been delivering high-impact, interactive workshops and presentations for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations/teams worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas; her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.