“Hey! How are you?”
“Good! Just busy!”
I think that pretty much sums up every conversation I’ve had with everyone in the last five years. I mean it’s funny, but it’s so sad. did you know that people with strong social networks live longer, make more money, have better health, and report more overall well-being and life satisfaction? The reality is that as time goes on, our relationships are becoming more and more surface level. I get it. People move away. It’s hard to make friends the older you get. We want to give our limited time and attention to our spouses, kids, and family. But the thing is, there is no substitute for community. Whether it’s church small group, platonic friendships, or hobby/interest groups, etc., we simply cannot get by without the support of others if we want to thrive and not simply survive. Here’s five practical tips you can implement in order to cultivate and maintain strong bonds—even if your schedule is jam-packed!
1️⃣ Schedule a routine friend date. The easiest way to carve out time is to schedule it like an appointment on your calendar. Having a routine day and time every couple of weeks or even once a month works well. I have started doing this recently with a new buddy. You would be surprised at how deeply meaningful a friendship can be with only a couple of hours of dedicated time every couple of weeks. when someone “gets” you, it is incredible mentally and emotionally valuable.
2️⃣ Use driving time or other busy work time to catch up on the phone. This is a great way to make chores less boring and to find time that you can chat without feeling like you are stealing time from you home family time. Call your BFF or your parents and catch up on the little things. You never know how much time you have left.
3️⃣ Use apps like Voxer for greater personal connection. I started using this app for coaching, but quickly recognized the value for my long-distance friendships. It’s like getting to chat on and off all day in a way that keeps you “together” even beyond a phone catch up. There’s no substitute for the real in person thing, but getting to hear one another’s voice is a pretty close second. It makes long-distance friendships seem not so far away.
4️⃣ Go out of your way to meet a need. It’s not going to be convenient. Ever. But that’s the point. You get what you give. Meeting the needs of others grows you together and let’s them know you can be trusted and counted on. It tells them you are invested beyond just what the relationship does for you.
5️⃣ Pray for one another. When you are pouring into someone else in this manner, it deepens the friendship on a different level than just chill time. While having friends certainly is about fun and relaxation, getting beyond surface level things is highly important to our well-being. It creates a place where we can be open and honest about struggles and seek advice from one another. Do battle in prayer for one another and ties grow in the the spiritual, not just the natural realm. It can be in person, but I find as much power in covering my friends daily in my personal prayer time. Ask them what their needs are and let them know you are lifting those needs up daily. It is so encouraging to see the breakthroughs you each have because of the prayer support the other has given.
1/ Do any of these tips sound helpful?
2/ How do you maintain strong social bonds despite being busy?