How to Keep Long Distances Friends Close
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Did you eat your vegetables today? Have you been to the doctor recently for a checkup? Are you drinking enough water and getting enough sleep? How about maintaining your friendships? Every day we should practice healthy habits. Even if we don’t get around to that second serving of veggies, eating well is on all our minds. We know the ramifications of a poor diet, dehydration, and sleep deprivation. But did you know that taking care of your friendships is just as important to your health?
The Benefits of Friendship
Humans are social creatures. Biologically, we need to feel secure, and having other people around provides us with that peace of mind. Psychologically, having close companions to share life with validates our existence and helps us attain personal growth. Having meaningful friendships can
· help us define our purpose
· boost self-esteem
· keep us honest
· promote healthy decisions
· reduce stress levels
The psychological benefits of friendship can also lead to physical wellness. Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, and when we manage our stress levels, we will see improvements in health. Researchers have discovered that friendships not only protect us against stressors, but people with strong support systems may
· experience longevity
· have increased chances of surviving cancers
· see improvements in the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
· have colds less often
· suffer less from heart disease
That’s a lot of good stuff. But what happens when your most meaningful relationships are long-distance? The best part about close friendships are the mundane, like running errands together, grabbing a coffee on a lunch break, or sitting on the couch watching TV. You could easily do this by yourself, but being near a companion makes all these trivial things better. Yet, when you live 700 miles away, you can no longer enjoy the intimate aspects of being in your friend’s physical presence. You can’t just go shopping with each other or watch the game; making plans seems like a marathon event, not to mention that it now costs several hundred dollars just to see them.
Don’t Let Distance Drive You Apart
Good friends are the ones you keep (hopefully). The reason they are good friends is because they have been there for you. Not only do they make you feel happier, but they know the real you. Their honesty keeps you in check. Their intimate knowledge and acceptance of the real you gives you a sense of self-worth. Their encouragement helps you enhance your individual development. They are too important to neglect through the barriers of time and space. Not only do you want to reap the personal benefits of friendship, but you should want the best for your loved ones, too. Here are a few things you should work on:
1. Think about your friends.
Not sharing in the mundane activities of life can remove your friends from your mind. Forgetting about them for whole days or weeks is not uncommon. If you keep them in your brain, you are less likely to neglect their needs.
· Put up pictures of them around your house, car, or office to serve as daily reminders of their presence.
· Write their names on a list to keep in a place you pass by every day.
· Pray and meditate over your companions to help you achieve feelings of peace, security, and love.
2. Show your friends you are thinking of them.
You may not have much time for phone conversations, but you do have time for e-mails, text messages, Facebook shout-outs, and snail-mail correspondence.
· Send text messages about trivial and silly things. They can help you keep inside jokes alive and can serve as a reminder of who you are to each other.
· Use e-mail as a way to have conversations. Highlight parts of your pal’s e-mail that you really liked. Respond within the e-mail in a different color. Do anything to make it turn into dialogue.
· Write a letter or send a card. Everyone loves getting personal mail, and it doesn’t require anything back.
· Forward articles, pictures, and quotes that remind you of your friend. Post these on Facebook, or you can send as an e-mail or text.
3. Schedule play dates.
These play dates are really vacations, but that’s what makes them more exciting! They may cost more money and take up more time, but they are an important aspect of maintaining your friendships and will give you something to look forward to.
· Plan a trip to meet half way.
· Go to a concert together.
· Schedule an annual trip to each others’ homes.
Even if you have been terrible at keeping in touch, or you’re starting to feel awkward about the amount of time that’s passed since you’ve last corresponded, it is never too late. True friends pick up from wherever they are and whatever is happening. If they didn’t, then why would you worry so much? It’s never too late to send a reminder you care—go ahead and do it right now.
- Melissa Lavery, M.S.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Adult health. (2014, February 5). Retrieved March 12, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860
McCord, S. (2015). The Secret to Staying in Touch With Long-Distance Friends. Retrieved March 12, 2015, from https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-secret-to-staying-in-touch-with-longdistance-friends
Nadine. 5 Tips for Maintaining Long-Distance Friendships. (2014, August 7). Retrieved March 12, 2015, from http://eastandblog.com/2014/08/maintaining-long-distance-friendships/
Rankin, L. (2012, May 8). The Health Benefits of True Friendship. Retrieved March 12, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/owning-pink/201205/the-health-benefits-true-friendship