Need an excuse for a girls’ night out? Try using this one: Science says so. We all know that we need our girls for the big important events in our lives. What’s a wedding or a baby birth without a grandma, mother, sister or best friend to help out? (Or, if you’re really lucky, all four!) But I’ve come to realize that while it’s nice to have your girlfriends around for the big life events, it’s in the day-to-day stuff where they can really save you.
Recently my husband and I packed up our four kids, cat, dog, lizard and fish and moved halfway across the country. (Pro tip: Don’t put four natural enemies in a tiny minivan for three straight days if you want everyone to survive. RIP Bubbles.) And while I love my new home, there are many things I still miss about my old home — first and foremost being the great group of girls I had as friends.
When we first left, I thought I’d be most missing my children’s beloved school, the beautiful scenery or my job but as we’ve settled in I’ve realized that nope, it’s my friends I miss the most. And I miss them deeply. You can find new schools, jobs, hiking trails and even fish (hello Goldie) pretty easily but finding a new tight-knit group of girlfriends is really tough.
And having a squad is incredibly important to both our mental and physical well-being. A new study published in the National Academy of the Sciences found that the more friends people have, the better their health is over the course of their life. In fact, relationships are so critical to our health that the researchers say they are equally as important as eating a healthy diet and exercising.
So as I try to build a new group of friends here — and trust I have already met some seriously amazing ladies — I have been thinking about all the little moments in life that are just better with a good girlfriend.
1. Getting a big chop (or little snip)
Whether you’re lopping off a foot of hair, going for mermaid-hued locks or just adding in some bangs, having a friend there to hold your hand (and keep an eye on the stylist) can make a nerve-wracking process so much easier. And if you end up hating the final result? They can remind you that it’s just hair and hair grows.
2. Trying a new fitness class
The gym can be an intimidating place, especially for newbies. But while it may feel impossible to walk solo into a CrossFit class where everyone seems to have known each other since kindergarten, walking in with a friend or three seems totally doable. Not only will they keep you from backing out the door but they help turn it into a fun shared experience that will be at least as good for stories as it is for your glutes.
3. After a bad day at work
Whether it’s a project failure, an ambiguous comment from a co-worker or your boss giving you some (hopefully) constructive criticism, work can be really stressful. And sometimes the best thing to put it into perspective is a quick coffee date with friends. Not only can your besties help you decide what to do but at least one of them can probably do a spot-on impersonation of your boss — and sometimes a good belly laugh is the best cure for self-doubt.
4. Fat days
Yeah, as liberated women, we’re not supposed to admit to having these anymore. But loving your body all the time seems like a chore, and frankly impossible. Yet venting can be tricky too. It doesn’t help to tell your husband, “Ugh, I feel so fat today” only to have him respond, “Well if you didn’t skip the gym…” Girlfriends are uniquely qualified to help distract you from your body image woes as they understand it’s never really about the tight pants.
It’s cliché but it’s true: No one will understand female problems like another female. All those hormones can do wacky things to us and it helps to have people who know what we’re going through to talk us down. Plus, in tight-knit girl groups, women’s cycles often sync up so at least we can all be miserable together?
6. The last day of winter break
Any mom will tell you that there are days when she begins to hate the sound of her own name and the last word she ever wants to hear again is “mom.” While motherhood is beautiful and we love our children, it can also be incredibly isolating. And sometimes being the main provider for all those endless needs gets exhausting. Knowing your girlfriends are just a desperate text away can make the difference between sending everyone to time out crying (including yourself) and taking a deep breath and letting it go. (Confession: I’m writing this on the last day of winter break. Someone save me.)