On a recently unusually cold morning in Massachusettes, I started the day like I typically do, listening to Pandora Radio. Scrolling through my 99 stations (of which I honestly only listen to like, 10), I stumbled upon and selected 90s R&B. After suffering through a series of commercials, I heard a familiar beat with synthesizers, baseline, and a kick drum that made way for melodious vocals. I recognized it from the very beginning: TLC’s “What About Your Friends” (1992). Now, I was only four-years-old when this song first hit the airwaves, but having older sisters pretty much meant that this song was on constant rotation at the time. 25 years later, and I’m still dancing around the room every time it comes on. The only difference is, I’m now more aware of and see the value in the lyrics because having incredible friends who stand by you at your lowest low and highest high is one of the most significant and necessary elements for one’s overall well-being.
I’ve often shared solo projects you could (and still should) dive into, tips on how to wind down, and products to help put you at ease, but very rarely (or maybe even never) have I used a Wellness Wednesday to share just how important and beneficial friends can be to establishing and developing positive mental health.
Of course, there are moments in your life, especially when you’re under mental distress, where you’d prefer to be by yourself or worry your friends won’t understand, but even in those down days and at those low points, we must at least try to gently open ourselves up to receiving just a little help from our friends (thank you, Beatles). Is that easy to do all the time? Not at all. Will some friendships change or end completely? Possibly (and that’s okay). Is it worth it to at least try sharing what you’re experiencing? Absolutely, but only if and when you’re ready and feel comfortable doing so.
For the one who needs support & the one who gives it.
Find a friend you trust and share such information in a quiet and private setting. Consider practicing what you want to say beforehand. Take things one day at a time. If you’re the friend, simply listening to them is a great start. If they are comfortable being touched, give them a hug as a sign of comfort and support. If you have more questions, see if they’re open to discussing. If they aren’t, respect their decision and move on. Each situation is different and everyone has different needs, so be patient and practical. Remember, if either of you ever feels overwhelmed or out of your element, don’t hesitate to include an adult or even a professional mental health counselor or therapist. The best thing you can do for your friend is to remind them they aren’t alone and that they are loved.
Whatever your friend group looks like and however you’ve formed such relationships, whether you’re feeling great or at your worst, remember that your tribe might be the ones who change your life for the better. I know mine did just that for me!