30 Days to a Healthier Social Life for moms
By Christa Melnyk Hines
Relocations, new babies, and other life transitions can throw a wrench in your social network, leaving you feeling disconnected and lonely. You can use this adjustment period as a chance to make a fresh start. Carefully consider your priorities and build connections that support your personal health and the well-being of your family.
Women who feel a balanced sense of connection are healthier and more resilient to stress, anxiety and depression. According to a recent Gallup poll, stay-at-home moms are more vulnerable to depression compared to women who work outside of the home and isolation could play a factor. Overall women are twice as likely to suffer from depression compared to men.
"When there is a lack of social interaction and a decrease of peer to peer contact, there is great potential for depression which is a combination of sadness and anger," says Lisa Bahar, a marriage and family therapist and professional counselor.
One day at a time, rev up your social engine for increased happiness and satisfaction.
1. Join a mother's group. Your sense of self-worth and sense of belonging increases when part of a group of supportive friends.
2. Call an old friend. Reconnecting helps you rebuild your confidence as you meet new moms.
3. Email a mom you'd like to know better. Arrange a time to meet with you and your kids for a playdate at the park or the mall play area.
4. Send a Facebook friend request to a mom you've met recently. Initiating friendships shows you welcome new friends and boosts your own self-confidence.
5. Volunteer. Your efforts will positively impact others, and you'll derive satisfaction and joy from helping out.
6. Shake out the welcome mat. Greet your new neighbors with a plate of warm cookies. They'll appreciate your thoughtfulness and a friendly face in a new neighborhood.
7. Strike up a conversation. Kids are great icebreakers. Even a casual conversation with another mom can cheer you.
8. Brighten a friend's day. Send a card to let her know you're thinking about her or call just to chat.
9. Click into an online moms group. Find comfort knowing your situation is not unique. Reaching out to other moms online who can relate can help you feel less isolated.
10. Text a friend with a new baby. The first few weeks can be a rough adjustment. By reaching out, you'll help her feel less alone. If possible, arrange a time to stop by with a meal.
11. Coordinate a meet and greet. Got school-aged kids? Invite other classroom moms to a "seasoned moms" lunch to build a sense of community.
12. Sign up for a yoga, Zumba or jazzercise class. Exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins and wards off stress. Group fitness helps you feel a sense of accountability.
13. Spring for a Girls Night Out! You may feel a little tired the next day, but recalling all the laughs and stimulating conversation will put a skip in your step.
14. Surround yourself with positive people. Move away from draining one-sided friendships that zap your energy.
15. Seek balance in your yeses. Stress less by saying no to requests that aren't a priority or don't interest you. Your family will thank you.
16. Go on a mini-adventure. Explore another part of town, discover a local museum, or take a class that interests you. Stepping out of your normal routine juices your creativity.
17. Make time to play. Carve out 15 or 20 minutes to pursue an activity you love. Playing is candy for the soul.
18. Start a walking group. Walking and talking for an hour is great exercise and it’s like free therapy!
19. Dine and play. Invite other moms, whose husbands travel or work late, for a two-hour afternoon play date and potluck dinner. Dinner done, kids sleep well, and you're rewarded with a quiet evening ahead!
20. Coordinate a group outing at the zoo or a children's museum. Both you and your kids will appreciate the social interaction, exercise and education these venues offer.
21. Check out the library. Libraries often feature interesting presenters, book clubs and other activities. Attend a few discussions to meet others with shared interests.
22. Organize a game night or book club with your friends. You and your friends will love the excuse for a lively evening escape!
23. Reach out to a receptive member of a group of moms. If she is an active volunteer at your child's school in activities that interest you, ask how you can get involved.
24. Rejuvenate at the spa. Soothing for the mind and body, a study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found Swedish massage in particular reduces the stress hormone cortisol, boosting immunity by increasing white blood cells which fight infection and disease.
25. Reconnect with your spouse. Find a sitter, get dressed up and head out for a date night. Feeling sociable? Invite another couple to join you.
26. Throw a neighborhood backyard BBQ. Provide outdoor games like badminton, horseshoes, volleyball, chalk, bubbles and hula hoops for the kids to play together.
27. Support a friend who sells make-up, jewelry, cookware or candles by accepting an invitation to one of the parties. Go with a budget and enjoy hanging out with other women.
28. Take a break. Schedule time alone to head to a pottery place and paint; go clothes shopping; or watch a movie.
29. Regroup with your kids. Set aside a relaxing afternoon to reconnect with your kids. Head to the park for a picnic lunch, play a board game, try ice skating or go bowling.
30. Touch base with your family around the dinner table. Communication builds stronger families. Talk about your day's highs and lows, discuss frustrations and celebrate successes.
Freelance journalist Christa Melnyk Hines is the author of Confidently Connected: A Mom's Guide to a Satisfying Social Life. Find her in the "Confidently Connected Moms" discussion group on Facebook.