Friendship Is Good for Your Health

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Friendship and female companionship are key components for good mental health and feeling positive about life.  These are not your Facebook friends, these are your girlfriends who you actually talk to and actually go out with to do fun things.  This is the best screen free activity in our #GirlUBeWell blog series!

Face to face chatting, dishing, laughing and catching up are the underpinnings of a “girl’s night out.” A GNO doesn’t need to be an alcohol fueled, dressed to the nines kind of outing. It can be a night at a ceramics class, a dance lesson, a movie, a coffee shop or a shared pint of ice cream on the couch.

Even if you have a boyfriend or partner, make time for your girlfriends.  Put phones face down in the middle of the table and listen intently.  You never know who needs an attentive ear or some friendly advice or commiserating and you never know when that day will come when you will need someone to lean on in a crisis or to listen during an emotional time.

Research shows that friends are an important part of healthy aging and staying social helps you stay positive.  Start a book group or a knitting circle so you have to put dates on the calendar.  Other ideas are birthday dinners, walking group or spa weekend…just get dates on the calendar to spend time with your girlfriends!

Journaling for Mental Wellness

BWhat do Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who hid with her family in an attic during World War II, and Susan Sontag, writer, filmmaker and political activist, all have in common?  Each of these women wrote in a journal, or kept a diary.  Journaling can mean different things to different people.  For some, a journal is more like a to-do list or a food diary.  Others keep a gratitude journal or work out deep thoughts, almost a written therapy of sorts.  And remember the Burn Book from the movie “Mean Girls?”  That was also a journal.

Journaling is the fourth installment of our #GirlUBeWell Blog series because keeping a journal is a great way to organize thoughts, work out problems, encourage personal growth and help sort through emotions, happy or sad.   Consider a journal a safe place for deepest, darkest personal issues or the place to park troubles at night in order to stop the brain from ruminating on problems and disrupting sleep.

On the flip side, a journal can be a place to write about experiences in order to document memories.  A journal can also be a place for ideas and creativity and organizing insights.  Some people have found that by writing down one note of gratitude per day one can refocus a general outlook on life to be positive in nature.

There are a variety of ways to keep a journal as well!  Some people prefer old fashion pen and paper, and the variety of artisan notebooks highlights the popularity of this medium.  There are also apps available to journal on your mobile device since most people have a phone close by 24/7! And there is also the trusty laptop or desktop if fingers fly across the keys more comfortably than holding a pen.

Let a journal be the place for a brain dump!  Once a thought is on paper, or in the journal app, have a conversation with the brain to let this issue go and to stop mulling it obsessively.  If something gets under the skin, complain loudly and use expletives in the journal!  Consider this journal a private place to scream, to face down your fears, to buck yourself up and to voice your dreams, desires and wishes.  A journal is a judgment free medium so it should feel liberating to keep a journal.  Be well!

Grown Up Coloring Books to De-Stress

IMG_3191Coloring is part one of our #GirlUBeWell blog series featuring analog pursuits to relax, de-stress and to boost low self esteem by focusing our attention on pen and paper and away from a screen.

The New York Times published an article in the business section a few weeks ago about The Secret Garden coloring books for adults and their creator, Johanna Basford.    This article, and others like this Pure Wow  piece, suggests that our fragmented attention as we bounce from social media to email to a text message to cat videos leaves us frazzled.

Coloring was something we all did as kids!  Some people scribbled outside the lines with reckless abandon and others meticulously selected colors and never strayed outside the lines, either method, though, was enjoyable and carefree.  As Ms. Basford said in the New York Times, “Part of the apparent appeal is the tactile, interactive nature of the books, which offer respite to the screen-weary. ‘People are really excited to do something analog and creative, at a time when we’re all so overwhelmed by screens and the Internet,’ she said. ‘And coloring is not as scary as a blank sheet of paper or canvas. It’s a great way to de-stress.’”

The smell of a fresh box of crayons alone may bring a flood of happy childhood memories, but there are also neon gel pens or retro tins filled with colored pencils from the artist supply store to choose from for achieving different looks.

We tried it and found coloring to be extremely soothing.  It presented an opportunity to create something unique and to step away from screens in an engaging, and yet mentally unchallenging way.  Just focusing on the design, colors and for some of us…staying in the lines…brought us each a short period of mental calm and an opportunity to let our minds just wander.

You don’t even have to buy a coloring book, here is a “zentangle” technique we posted on our Pinterest board!  Try it and happy coloring!