Life & Beauty Weekly: Life & Love

By Cynthia Hanson for Life & Beauty Weekly


The Beatles got it right: You can get by with a little help from your friends. Trouble is it’s tough to get their support if you don’t see them! So what do you do when you haven’t had a girls’ night out in ages or your job leaves you feeling like you don’t have energy for your loved ones? Make a plan to get your life in a balance that includes both friends and family.

“Friendships are good for both our physical and emotional health,” says Kimberly Moffit, psychotherapist and relationships expert who has appeared on Oh So Cosmo, Global TV news, CITY TV news and CBC’s Steven and Chris. “Not only are positive interactions fun and exciting, but they also help us feel connected with other people, have a positive effect on our immune systems, combat depression and generally help us to feel more happy.”

Moffit warns that for some women, friendships can be the first thing to go if they’re finding it hard to juggle work, family and other commitments. If this sounds familiar, follow this stress-less plan to strike a better balance and stay connected with all the important people in your life.

1. Don’t settle for Facebook newsfeeds.

“Me” time is vital to self-care — and self-care is crucial to staying in balance and having the energy you need for your family. That’s why taking time to chat over the phone or webcam is imperative, Moffit says. “Talking with a friend can help you sort through problems or dilemmas that you’re having and even vent about relationships,” she says. “And if you’re not seeing each other face to face or hearing each other’s voices, it’s hard to feel truly connected.”

2. Keep family time separate.

Does your friend always call when you’re getting your preschooler ready for bed? Or when you and your husband are trying to relax after dinner? Solution: Be assertive and set boundaries.

“It’s absolutely OK to screen your calls during the evening,” says Moffit. “Keeping your family time to yourself can be very helpful in maintaining your balance. Having friends should feel supportive and encouraging, but if it begins to feel like a chore, it might be important to re-examine the nature of your friendships (for example, is your friend taking more than she’s giving?) or even reserve certain nights of the week as ‘dates’ to speak on the phone.” Let friends know when you’re free to chat — perhaps on your lunch hour or before you leave work. That way you won’t miss their latest news or your game of Monopoly with the kids.

3. Set a standing date.

It’s hard to coordinate a meet-up with a friend when your kids’ activities keep you hopping and chores keep you busy on weekends. Choose a day and time that fit your lifestyles and workloads — perhaps coffee at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, or brunch on the third Sunday of every month. Then stick to it, just as you would stick to a spinning class.

“Psychologically speaking, looking forward to events is proven to encompass more than half of the enjoyment of the actual event,” says Moffit. “Let yourself relish in and cherish these times out with the gals!” Plus, by having it on your calendar, you’ll avoid all the back-and-forth “When are you free?” texts.

4. Be flexible.

Not big on breakfast, but 8:00 a.m. is the only time your friend is free? Take one for the team and nibble a bagel anyway. “If you want to keep your friendships healthy, it’s important to remember that it’s not always an easy road — they can be hard work!” says Moffit. “So go ahead and meet your friend for breakfast at 8 a.m., but [make sure she’s also] willing to meet you on a Sunday morning when she’d rather be sleeping in.”

5. Think small.

Back in the day, you lingered together over martinis and escaped to luxury spas. But those gal-pal outings aren’t realistic right now when you’re busy with family matters. So settle for close encounters of the quick kind. It’s better to squeeze in 45-minute lunch dates between client meetings than to have no F2F time at all!

Cynthia Hanson is a journalist who writes for many national publications, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Parents and American BabyShe is a frequent contributor to Life & Beauty Weekly.

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