4 Ways To Build Your Self Care Network

All of my best self care rituals have come directly from conversations with girlfriends.

Over the years, some of these habits have become so engrained that they become a part of the definition of who I am; I am a person who does yoga, who knits, who ferments their own kombucha, who bullet-journals once a week. These are hobbies but they also are the practices that keep me grounded and enhance my mental and physical state.

Without a network of strong, confident women who take the time and energy to care for themselves, I may never have started devoting resources to doing the same. This post is a love letter to those girlfriends: the ones who receive real-time photos of your latest Buddha bowl creation or meet for Sunday morning yoga class. If that doesn’t resonate with you, keep reading anyways! I’m going to yammer on about why the girlfriend-and-self-care connection is so important, but I also have some suggestions about how to build that network for yourself.

Have you ever not wanted to go to a workout class, but shown up anyways because you told a girlfriend you’d meet them there? Having people in our lives who encourage us and join us in self care activities gives us accountability and inspires us to be our best selves! Plus, practicing self care activities with your friend is a great way to have fun and bond over shared experiences.

A network of friends who have diverse self care hobbies exposes us to new, game-changing things. I had started and given up several journals before coming to the conclusion that journaling just wasn’t for me, even though there are so many benefits to the practice. Then I met someone who bullet journals, which is a fancy way of saying they combine to-do lists, illustrations and other features into their journaling, rather than writing long form entries. I’m a huge fan of this new method and it’s totally re-shaped the way I track habits, daily gratitude lists and important memories.

Whether it’s new sports, recipes, health care products or just habits you want to incorporate into your routine, our friendships can be daily sources for inspiration and health-motivated choices.

In fact, studies show that social relationships help alleviate stress and even have direct health benefits. One scientific study found that people with strong social ties were less susceptive to the common cold1!

For all of the amazing reasons above, you should consider building or re-committing to your self care peeps. Keep reading for examples of ways to build those ties and how they have personally worked for me!

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Big thanks to my friends who let me post photos of them on the internet! Also a couple shots from Soul Seed Journeys .

Building a self care network

Did you get this far into the post and realize you could use more female-fueled wellness inspiration in your life?! Building friendships as an adult is hard AF and making that first friendship move leaves you feeling super vulnerable. The good news we are all also struggling with that! Maybe you just moved to a new city, or your friends are amazing but none of them are really into “this kind of thing”. I’ve got a couple suggestions that have lead me to some amazing, influential relationships with some pretty cool ladies:

1. Tap into your current network

I am super lucky to have a couple close friends who have built their lives around the wellness industry. Allison (Soul Seed Journeys) and Kate (Roots in the Wilderness) have been so gracious in including me in their yoga camp series for the past few years (check out this upcoming hiking yoga camp). I work alongside them at the retreats, leading workshops and cooking, but mostly I am socializing with an even bigger crew of amazing people who attend! By connecting and working with just those two friends, I’ve tapped into a much larger social network!

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The Fall 2017 Yoga Camp group photo: just an awesome crew of cool wellness ladies!

Talk to your friends or coworkers about how they practice self care. Is it something you could do together? If you already have a close friend that you routinely spend time with, are there other people on the periphery you could invite?

2. Go to stuff - alone!

I have that specific brand of social anxiety where I do not like going to events alone. I find it uncomfortable and hesitate to attend when I know I won’t know anyone there. BUT if you push yourself out of that comfort zone a little you can meet some amazing people (plus if you get there and decide it’s unbearable, no one knows you; just go home).

This summer I volunteered for the Calgary Folk Fest, even though none of my friends signed up with me. I was nervous on that first day, but over half of the crew had also signed up alone and were looking for somebody to talk to! I was immersed in a group of people who had similar interests and we spent the whole weekend getting to know each other. I left feeling proud of myself for trying something new.

Check out an event at your local yoga studio, workshop at a health food store, or a nearby meetup and sit beside someone who looks like they came alone too!

3. Try to go to the same places at the same time, and actually interact with the people there.

For me, it’s going to the same dog park at the same time, almost every day.  Coop (the dog) and I always hit the park right when I get home from work, and I always give a quick hello to whoever else is there. Over time, I’d start to recognize the same people, so that quick hello turned into a funny story about what my dumb dog did that morning, which morphed into longer conversations about dog training. I have that same interaction all the time, but with one or two people, the conversation really keeps going. After I’d been chatting with one kindred spirit about three times a week for a while, we finally made the leap and exchanged numbers so we could make sure we were going to the park at the same times. Then we arranged to take our dogs on a day hike together. Now she’s a dear friend who I see regularly for walks, yoga classes and friendly conversation over wine.

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I knew I could work a photo of my dog into this somehow. Find a shared hobby with and go do it together!

Sometimes it just takes some regular exposure to the same group of people until one of them clicks! Don’t have a dog? Try going to the same yoga or exercise class each week – you’ll start to see some familiar faces and you know you have something in common – ask them what they think of the instructor, compliment their yoga mat, have they ever been to the class that’s coming up next? It might take some time, and not everyone will become your best friend but it’s a way to low-key meet some new people.

4. Stay tuned to the LIA project for networking and community events! Carolina is kicking off this awesome project to bring us all together, let’s make the most of it!

 In conclusion, our friendships and who we choose to spend time with can really influence daily habits, for better or worse! Build ties with people who encourage your good habits, introduce you to new ones and leave you feeling like your best self! If you have some examples of ways you practice self care with your girlfriends, or techniques for adult friend-making, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!


 
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Calla Turnbull

is an aspiring multi-tasker. She is currently working as an environmental technical writer, developing yoga experiences with Soul Seed Journeys, managing a personal blog and completing a technical writing certificate part-time. Each of these allows Calla to develop her communicate skills, be continuously learning and balance a broad range of interests and hobbies! Writing from an educational perspective, where people are introduced to new skills or ways of thinking, is a rewarding and thoughtful endeavor, one which Calla pursues constantly. She believes in the power of introspection and in taking the time for self-care, and will promote it whenever she can.