Getting together with trusted friends is a healing and resilience-building activity. Many times, after lunch or coffee with a friend or group of friends, I feel my resiliency bolstered. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from difficult or traumatic situations. Getting together with friends where I feel supported, validated and heard increases my ability to go out into the world and face challenges. Making connections with friends and other loved ones is like an inoculation to protect from life's challenges. This is just one reason connections are important.
Dr. Bruce Perry says this about connections: "Ideally, if a child is growing up in a relationally “wealthy” home, with lots of opportunities for safe, stable, and nurturing interactions, they will build their connectedness and resilience." This is true for children as they are developing, but it is also true for adults. And even if we did not have a relationally rich life as a child, we can work at building these connections as an adult.
Connections benefit us in several ways. They improve our health, both physically and emotionally, and increase our self-efficacy. Greater self-efficacy gives us more confidence in our abilities, the power we have in the world, and in finding our voice. The support and encouragement we receive from others help us strengthen our self-efficacy. Also, our friends and loved ones can serve as role models for us and we can strive to improve our lives through the positive characteristics we see in them.
Our physical heath improves when we have positive connections. When I sit with friends talking and laughing, my feel-good hormones, like oxytocin, increase. This benefits my overall health. Also, my stress hormones, like cortisol, decrease and this benefits my health as well. And it’s not only human friends that increase our oxytocin. Spending time with our pets not only increases this feel-good hormone in us but also in our furry friends.
Connections and the benefits we get from them also help our emotional health. Depression and anxiety lessen when we connect with others. We can gain a feeling of calm, improve our mood, and increase feelings of trust and safety. These are all important parts of good mental health and help us deal better with life challenges.
With so much bad news in our world today, it’s important to care for ourselves by connecting with trusted friends and family. These relationships can serve as a protective shield against the difficulties of life.