While jogging alone the other day, chugging my way through the park, I thought how nice it would be to have a friend by my side. Someone to chit-chat with and give the little nudge I would need to sprint up the approaching hill; someone to talk me into doing another loop; a friend to give me a gentle push.
And then it occurred to me. Wouldn’t we rather have a friend with us for so many things we do in life? Shopping, exercising, eating, exploring, traveling — cooking! Cooking with our friends should be as natural as doing anything else with a friend. Why not have someone by our side in the kitchen, offering encouragement in making a new dish, combining a few spices or simply trying to create healthy meals our kids will like and not push away?
A study conducted by UCLA in 2009, entitled “Friendship Among Women,” revealed that hanging out with our friends “can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis.” It also suggests that “women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.”
So, we learn, it’s good for our health to be with our friends. Great news! But with all of life’s demands and time constraints, how do we fit it into our lives when there’s so much else to get done?
The answer is, we invite them into the routine of life and make them a part of what needs to be done. My friends and I will often help one another re-arrange a playroom, clean out a storage closet or give advice on renovations, all while hanging out and cooking together in the kitchen, the place we’re most comfortable together. We’re just a part of each other’s every day routines.
So, life isn’t solitary, it’s social and while we are accomplishing life’s basics, we’re also doing something that’s good for our health. Isn’t that nice!