- Meeting people- "The more people you have in your life, the more likely you are to have truly supportive relationships with at least one of them." She suggests joining a gym, getting involved in a hobby, volunteering, getting a pet, throwing a party or simply just smiling at others.
- Time Management- This is so important, although it seems when life gets busy the first thing to be cut out of our schedules is our friends. Next time, you're tempted to skip the monthly girls-night-out or put off calling back your friend who talks for an hour, remember how valuable friendships are to the balance in your life. And who doesn't need more balance?
- Assertiveness- An important thing is making sure you are getting your needs met while meeting the needs of your friends. Not every friendship is a supportive one and most of us do not have the time or energy to nurture bad friendships.
- Listening to your friend- Good communication is essential to nurturing supportive relationships whether it's a friendship or a marriage. Inherent in good communication is the ability to truly listen. I know I'm guilty of thinking about what my reply is going to be and just waiting for my chance to interject it rather than really listening to my friend (or my husband, especially my husband). Being able to listen to a friend helps "turn stress into a feeling of connection and well-being."
- Listening to your intuition- Keeping a healthy social circle is imperative for friendships to be able to reduce stress. Toxic friends, those who give off negative energy or make you feel drained after being with them should not be part of your social circle. Keep in mind, you might be that toxic friend and may need to address some things in your life to become the friend you'd want to have.
- Letting go- One of the toughest lessons in my life was the ending of a wonderful seven-year friendship with a girl friend I truly loved. We had supported each other through working in emergency communications, divorce and many stressful life changes, including law enforcement relationships. Then one day, we realized our friendship was no longer supportive. It was a tough decision, but we knew it was time to let it go. This is common and occurs at all stages of life. Just remember, letting go of a non-supportive friendship is not the same as not tending to supportive friendships due to lack of time.
"A friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." Walter Winchell
The UCLA study supports what women have known for years. We rely on each other for support, empathy and companionship. Friends make us feel better about ourselves, our lives and our marriages. With all the uncontrollable negative and unexpected stress in law enforcement life, having a strong social network can make us smile even through the tears.