When I was in my late 30s, I left a successful career to become an at-home Mom. It was not an easy decision. In fact, I quit three different times before it really stuck.
One thing I was not prepared for was the isolation I felt by being home. It wasn’t the role; I was embracing and loving the increased one-on-one time with our young children. Instead, it was the fact that I hadn’t built a network with other at-home parents. This, in turn, meant I didn’t have many friends who could understand what I was going through.
Fast forward 15 years. Now I’m working from home and applying the lessons I learned from my younger self. Step 1 – Surround myself with friends I can relate to now and as I get older.
Relationships that stand the test of time ebb and flow. We now know that friendships are key to our longevity.
When researchers studied what differentiates those people who live longer than the average, several obvious factors emerged – diet, exercise, etc. A great article on this was published by Time Magazine. What I’d like to focus on is the importance of uplifting, close friends – or your network.
In a recent Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging, it was found that the “effect of confidants upon survival suggests that discretionary relationships, with friends and confidants, as compared with relationships where there is less choice concerning interaction, with children and relatives, have important positive effects on survival.”
In other words, close friends can be more important to longevity than family. And by close friends, I mean the kind who will be there when you’re sick, lift you up when you’re down and love you unconditionally.
Jeff Haden, author of “A study of 300,000 people found living a longer, happier life isn’t just about diet, exercise, or genetics,” stated, “The key isn’t to have more friends. The key isn’t to have tons of friends. The key is to have three or four really, really good friends, and then, of course, plenty of people who aren’t necessarily friends but are fun to be around, or result in a mutually beneficial relationship, or share common interests.” He summarized it this way, “You don’t need to be less friendly. You just need to nurture the most important relationships in your life.”
And those relationships should be positive, fun and encouraging. Spending quality time with someone with a sunny disposition affects your body physically and emotionally. Throw in some laughter and your body is floating in positive hormones and antibodies.
For help with dealing with people who aren’t uplifting, check out our previous post on Drama.
For those of you who spend a lot of time at home, whether for personal or professional reasons, I encourage you to approach your friends circle with the same fervency you have in previous life stages.
Networking doesn’t end when a job does. It’s an investment in your health and you may live longer for it.