Friendships enrich our life and improve our health. They offer external social support that can improve our happiness, reduce stress and help us cope with major challenges. After all, we are social beings and we are nourished by others. But here is the deal- we need some alone time too. It’s important and necessary to be cool with the person that knows us inside and out- our own self. All of the positive benefits resulting from being connected to others could potentially fall by the wayside if we are not comfortable in our own skin.
Becoming your own best friend allows you to create your own internal support system, while cultivating healthy self-esteem and developing self-compassion. It is not about neglecting your external support system; rather, it is about pouring into it by taking care of yourself. If you are good to yourself, you are much more likely to be good to others.
So how do you become your own best friend? Here are a few helpful tips.
- Enjoy some alone time. Take time each day to enjoy spending time alone. Solitude is the time when we are able to center ourselves, thereby forming healthy attachments and genuine bonds with others. Additionally, spending some time alone can increase empathy towards others and enhance our creativity.
- When unhelpful thoughts show up, give yourself permission to change your mind. All of us battle with unhelpful thoughts at times. When they show up, you have permission to change your mind by changing your thoughts. Automatic negative thoughts can fool us into focusing on what’s wrong, rather than what’s strong. With practice, you can learn to notice the unhelpful thoughts and choose to think about things in a more realistic and helpful way.
- Deliberately create positive experiences for yourself. Make a list of things that you enjoy/value and practice those things daily. Examples include helping others, sending a card to a friend, taking a walk in the park or recalling a time when you were happy. Studies have found that individuals who engage in more frequent enjoyable leisure activities have better psychological and physical functioning.
- Be here now. Being in the present moment (practicing mindfulness) is a beautiful way to be your own best friend and mindfulness practices can help you to overcome low self-esteem. Slow things down and pay attention to what’s happening now. Our mind likes to wander and keep us stuck in the past or fast forward us into the future. All we have is the present, so that’s what we need to enjoy. You can be here now by observing your breathing, eating mindfully (25 chews per bite), praying, practicing meditation and listening to others wholeheartedly.
- Unplug: Whether it’s social media, email, or the television, many of us are always connected to technology. Heavy technology use has been found to be related to sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression among young adults. I recommend setting aside some time each week- whether it is an hour a day, a few hours a day or one full day each week- to unplug.
These are just a few ways that you can become your own best friend. I always say that once you have awareness, you must make a shift. So select one of the five tips and give it a try. Share your story by leaving a reply at the bottom of this post. Of course, if you are experiencing significant distress, reach out to a professional that can help you address your concerns. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.