My world recently got turned upside down when I lost one of my best friends very suddenly. Something like this puts everything into perspective. She had been one of my best friends for around 15 years and I am heartbroken. Our group of friends feels broken, like a puzzle we finished years ago and now there’s a piece missing, but it has also brought us closer together. I had been planning to write a post on the importance of humans, and it feels very relevant now.
As much as technology can be a wonderful thing, and it’s brilliant for keeping in touch with people who you might not otherwise hear from often, it’s really no substitute for actual face to face human interaction. (The irony of this being written on a blog isn’t lost on me!) Just google ‘Facebook vs human interaction’ or something similar and you’ll find article after article discussing this. I love that Facebook / Twitter / Instagram etc allow me to keep up with my friends across the world; from Ecuador to Norway to Australia, and with my family in Amsterdam, France and Spain; but I miss their faces and I miss hugs and I miss their voices. (Yes, I’m aware that Skype exists but my internet isn’t always great and only being able to hear half a conversation while the screen continually freezes is stressful.)
My anxiety makes me feel yuk and when you’re feeling rough sometimes the last thing you want to do is see people. It does make you want to hide away and sometimes succeeds in making you do just that. BUT, I usually feel much better after seeing my family and friends. I find that conversation can be a much better distraction than something like watching a film, and seeing actual people and engaging your brain in conversation is the most effective way for me to ‘get out of my own head’. Anxiety makes you focus on yourself, worrying about how you’re feeling constantly and it can end up blocking out everything else. Getting together with people and having a laugh is one of the best ways (that I’ve found) to reconnect with the ‘real world’ and feel more like a ‘normal’ human.
It’s not just conversation that helps, it’s actual human contact. And no, not necessarily that kind. It’s scientifically proven that hugs make everything better. That might be a slight exaggeration but they do boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, alleviate fears, improve your health in general, decrease feelings of loneliness AND reduce the effects of stress. See this article.
When you’re feeling completely fed up, exhausted, grumpy and lonely, a hug really can make it all better. At my friends’ funeral on Saturday I was (understandably) a bit of a wreck, and I’m not sure how I even managed the day. But I know that all the hugs certainly helped. When you’ve lost someone there’s an emptiness in your heart and something about clinging on to someone who feels the same emptiness makes you feel much less alone. When you need comfort you may turn to a text or a Facebook message for comforting words, but what you really reach for are the people around you. Throughout the day hands appeared seemingly from nowhere to grip my arm or hold my hand or hug me, and they very literally prop you up in a seemingly impossibly bleak time.
Don’t let anxiety, or anything else for that matter, stop you from spending time with the people that you love. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss something now and then, that’s life, but do your best to hug all the people you love as often as you can. You need to have conversations and laughs and feel the presence of people who love you too. And don’t wait to tell the people that you love, that you love them.
This post is dedicated to everyone who held my hand, and to my best friends. And to Mair, who I can’t hug anymore but in her memory I will hug everyone just a little tighter from now on xxx
Elbow can say this much better that I can – Dear friends, you are angels and drunks … you are the stars I navigate home by