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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Happy Best Friends Day!

By August 15, 2013

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One of the best-feeling ways to manage stress is to do so with the support of your best friends. Whether it's a single "best friend" like you may have had growing up, or a group of friends who are your go-to buddies, friends help us shoulder the burden of stress when things get tough, and they intensify the celebrations when things go well. Today, August 15th, is the day that we celebrate our best friends: Happy Best Friends Day!

How can you celebrate Best Friends Day? There are an unlimited number of ways, but I have a few recommendations that can enhance your relationships and help you to build resilience toward stress. If you have your own ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments section or in a comment on Facebook. Here are mine so far:

  • Give A Gift This seems to be one of the more traditional ways to celebrate a special occasion: with a gift. But this can be a gift with a twist. Give a gift that reminds your friend of a happy memory you had together, like a framed picture of the two of you having fun, an item that represents a shared interest (such as yarn, a sports jersey, or a coffee card), or even just an e-card with a nice note attached. Because of the positive effects of giving, you'll be getting something great out of it, too! (Guys, feel free to simply give a high-five if you think giving a skein of yarn or sachet of handmade potpourri might bring more of a puzzled look than a big hug. Or just skip to the next idea. It's okay.)

  • Play A Game Whether you're a sporty type who likes physical games, a techie type who plays video games, a board game fan who throws a great game night, or a Facebooker who loves the fun games you can play with friends there, there's no shortage of games at your disposal. Let your inner child come out, and play with your friends! Having fun is an enjoyable and effective way to combat stress. (If you're on the fence about this, read up on the importance of having fun and get motivated to play.)

  • Write A Gratitude Letter One of the best tools that Positive Psychology has identified as a route to good feelings is the gratitude visit, where you write a letter that outlines what you appreciate about the positive things someone has done in your life, and then visit them, reading it aloud. People don't always set up gratitude visits outside of a course in positive psychology or a therapy or coaching session, but I really believe that the would would be a better place if people did this regularly. Why not take this opportunity to create a version of this experience? While it is recommended that you write a full letter and read it in front of the person, you can send it in an email, casually share a quicker version of what you might write in a letter, or find other ways to express your gratitude that feel right for you. The point is that you can show your appreciation for your friends today, and specifically mention what you love about them.

  • Hang Out With Your Friends This is probably the best way to celebrate, if you can swing it. Not everyone has time to get together on a Thursday, so you may just want to make plans to spend time together (in person, if you can, or via Skype or the phone if distance and scheduling are an issue). Spending time with your friends and just having fun can strengthen the relationships, and help you to blow off steam and manage stress as well. Have fun!
For more on the importance of social support, read the following articles. I also encourage you to leave your best ideas for celebrating in the "comments" section if you'd like, or check out what people are saying on Facebook. Enjoy your day!

Social Support: The Hows and Whys of Cultivating a Circle of Friends
Why are friends so great, and how can you find more of them? This article clues you in.

How To Maintain Social Support
Friendships don't always come easily. Here are some skills you need to maintain these important relationships.

About.com Friendship
I love About.com's Friendship site--there are some fantastic resources here on creating and maintaining a supportive circle of friends. Whether you're working on creating stronger friendships, helping your kids get the hang of it, or working through a challenging issue with a friend, this site can be very helpful.

Again, you can find more stress management resources on Facebook--find our page and be sure to "like" for regular updates and discussions.

Please feel free to add your own tips for embracing laziness in the comments section, sign up for the free stress management newsletter for ongoing updates, and have a wonderful week!

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

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