Finding your life's balance: Friends and social life

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In our regular feature Nina Grunfeld presents a wellbeing series for HR professionals. It's time to focus on yourself

Were you out last night with your friends? Or sitting alone at home wondering where they’d all gone? Before we start focusing on friends and social life, how rested are you feeling right now after last month? Fill in your Balance Chart (‘10’ being very satisfied) and notice your scores. Pay special attention to your friends and social life – what do you like doing in your free time, and with whom?

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What we want to do in our time often depends on our stage of life. If you’re young and single it’s probably clubbing, exotic restaurants and fun, because once children come along things change. As Nigella Lawson said, you can’t work, have a social life and be a parent; you can only do two of the three. I’ve been with many of your colleagues (interestingly, mainly male) who said they were on a strict agenda at weekends – enlisted to do children’s duties for much of the two days. When does that leave time for them?

True friendship will wait for us no matter what we’re going through. How many times have you been reunited with a long-lost friend and simply picked up where you left off? And you’ll also make new friends depending on the time of life you’re going through. We need different friends because each brings out a different facet of us. You might choose to talk child issues with one person, go on a trekking holiday with another and discuss politics with a third. The beauty of good friendships is that, even if we don’t have everything in common or share the same tastes, we can be ourselves. These differences may enhance our friendships and help us look at the world from a different perspective.

Good friendships can also be the glue that holds our lives together. We can rely on our friends for everything – from being a shoulder to cry on to sharing our most joyful moments. But just as some friends make us feel energised, valued and supported, others can drain us and make us feel tired, frustrated or even depressed. It’s as if they suck the life out of us and give nothing in return. Even though it can be hard to let go of a friendship we may no longer actively want to cultivate it, and can allow it simply to fade away. Clearing out friends we no longer feel a connection with leaves room for new ones.

Or maybe you don’t want as many friends. We don’t necessarily need tonnes. Though it’s incredibly helpful to have a cherished friend.

You may be happy to create a social life on your own, meeting new people along the way. Or you may be so carried away by what’s going on around you that you don’t notice you’re on your own. Whether you’d like to do more on your own or make time for being with friends, don’t wait. Get out there now...

Three tasks for June to enable you to grow your friends and social life:

1. Say ‘no’ to work and children

Say ‘no’ to working late and ‘yes’ to friends and social life. And if it’s children that are stopping you living your life hire a babysitter for one day a month (minimum).

2. Get nostalgic

Is there anyone you haven’t seen for a while that you frequently think of? Get in touch with them.

3. Become aware of what you love

Often we do things because we’ve always done them, whether that’s going to the football or having a regular night out with the same friends. Become aware of what you really like doing and keep a list of those things. Time is precious so do what you love.

Nina Grunfeld is a self-help and wellbeing guru, author, and founder of self-improvement workshops Life Clubs

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