By Renée Trudeau
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, 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 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 what a huge impact real, heartfelt connection with friends has on quality of life, mental health, sense of contentment and overall well-being.
A well-known UCLA study on female friendships found that these key relationships not only help reduce stress but 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 (called the “tend and befriend” response), which helps them physically and emotionally return to home base.
Yet, what happens when we get overscheduled or when 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.
For more than 25 years, I’ve been coaching women and men on the four areas of self-care—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual—one of the best ways to enhance balanced living. To this day, I’m continually 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 daily movement and eating nourishing foods. Critical to this is seeking out and taking time to connect with friends who nurture us, and using discernment in 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.
We need—and deserve—relationships that let us show up “warts and all.” We need friends who encourage us to shine and are not threatened by our success. We need confidants who provide refuge, a space for us to rest without having to prove, do or be anything to anyone. Consider the following:
- Which 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 make time with friends a top priority?
- Am I ready to stop holding it all together, let go, be vulnerable and allow friendships to evolve and deepen?
During September, I challenge you to focus on cultivating (or deepening) a new or existing friendship. Make this a priority; I’d love to hear ideas on steps you’re taking to move “friend time” to the top of your list. If this theme calls to you, and you desire greater sisterhood, consider joining me for my women’s self-renewal group The Fifties: Cultivating Grace, Power & Intuition.
Community = medicine! Now, more than ever.
Renée Peterson Trudeau is a nationally known author/speaker and retreat facilitator. An Austin, TX, transplant, she lives full-time in Brevard where she leads Wild Souls Movement, women’s circles and retreats, and helps people find balance through the art/science of self-care. Join her in October for a new women’s self-renewal group The Fifties: Cultivating Grace, Power & Intuition, and October 13–15 for Awakening Your Wild Soul: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Learn more at ReneeTrudeau.com.