The S’mores Circle

8b8836e5c2cab9312ec1509e5b774f11This time of the year is often filled with reflection and a retrospective review of our lives with a focus on lifestyle changes we hope to attain in the New Year. It’s a time where regrets can be erased by future aspirations. Many of us set resolutions, which I stopped doing years ago, but as I conducted a 2016 “life audit” (red pen and all), I recognized that I failed to practice what I preach to others daily.

When we contemplate healthy habits, we often focus on exercise and nutrition, but we often lose sight of friendships and its correlation to health and wellness. A strong connection with others can strengthen our immunity, improve our emotional and physical well-being, and help us recover from the ups and downs of life.

Do you have hundreds or even thousands of friends on social media? Although it may seem we are more connected then ever before through our social networks and exchange of messages and glimpses into life events through pictures, etc, these social connections can be less intimate. Quality, rather than quantity, is what matters and a strong social support network can help us overcome rough patches.

Did you know that strong social connections can increase chances of longevity by 50%[1]? Lower levels of anxiety and depression? Help you recover from disease? The list goes on…

2016 was a year I went into hibernation as I struggled with an incredibly traumatic life event. We have all gone through ups and downs in life dealing with them in our own ways. I am known to be incredibly resilient, masterfully rolling with the punches through thick and thin; however, this time I retreated. Rather than rely on the friends who reached out as they sensed that something was slightly off, I managed matters solo and in isolation. At times, I thought it was just a bad dream reminding myself “this too shall pass”, but because I chose not to let others in, it was an incredibly difficult period to manage. And as I reflect on 2016, I realize that if I had let my circle of friends in, it might not have been such a bumpy path forward.

My resolution for 2017 is pretty simple…I’m going to make more S’MORES.

Some of the most profound and memorable conversations and connections I have made with friends have been around campfires. I have always been mesmerized by the sounds, sights and smells of a campfire—everything from the flicker of the dancing flames, the kaleidoscopes that paint eyelids as stories are shared, the crackling sounds of the sizzling wood that can be heard over laughter and that intoxicating scent that lingers even after the night has come to an end.

2017 will be the year that I roast more marshmallows around campfires and share s’mores with the friends that I haven’t texted, called, emailed, smoke-signaled back, friends I’ve treasured for years but lost touch with recently, friends that I didn’t rely on when I needed them most…

Hope that everyone reading this does the same and reaches out to a friend and makes the time for new ones! What’s that saying? “Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you always know they are there”.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year!

[1] http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

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3 Responses to “The S’mores Circle”

  1. Regina Holliday says:

    Dear Sarah,

    I hope you come to Cinderblocks this year. :) we have s’mores!
    -Regina

  2. Nurturing the network when well helps me use it when not well. Being a helper sometimes helps me understanding and accepting help. In general people don’t know how to be helpful and when I need it, I’m not so good at guiding. When my son was sick, one family team members job was to keep a running list of things he/ we needed. The list was shared on weekly team calls. Spontaneous help of ‘here’s a casserole, do you need food any other day this week? Or I’m going shopping what can I get you? Worked well. Taking no for an answer was good too. Wanna go to this jazz bar on Wednesday was a good one. I’m lucky that I have a low tolerance for feeling lost and feeling down. Some people have such capacity.
    Anyway, slowing down can be a bitch when constant movement is a salve. Happy new year. Good postSarah.

  3. Dear Sarah,

    Thank you for sharing your story on e-patients.net. You still managed to find the time in 2016 to help others at conferences and I am profoundly grateful to your participation. You are absolutely spot on with your message. In fact there was a study called the”Roseto Mystery”, which is essentially about a group of people from Roseto, PA, who had very low rates of heart disease and long life spans compared to all neighboring towns . A group of investigators wanted to find out why and ultimately concluded that these people were nourished by each other. In other words, their strong social bonds (dating back to their ancestors in Rosato, Italy) is what kept them healthy. Here is to friendships and connections for 2017! Best wishes, Valerie Bowling

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