Six Ways to Slay Stress with Friends

Mondays! The day God invented to challenge us (and keep Starbucks afloat). Today arrived with computer problems, challenges with bureaucracy and an unrealistic timeline imposed by my own procrastination (did I mention that the Starbucks in my hotel couldn’t make coffee today?!). As I headed into a meeting, I took several really deep breaths, asked God for help, used the Sedona method to release it, and walked in smiling. As soon as I saw my friends, that 300 lb. stress gorilla jumped off my chest and ran for the elevators! Their hugs and smiles made the stressful thoughts of the day vanish into thin air.

While friends can help lighten your stress load, they can also add to it. Here are my six top tips for reducing stress in your relationships:

1. CAUTION – Don’t ask for what you don’t want. If you are not willing to take advice, don’t ask for it! And by the way, venting about a problem is often interpreted as asking for advice. If you choose not to follow said advice, you foreit the right to vent in the future. And you will probably hurt their feelings, even if said advice was crappy. This rule applies especially to spouses!

2. USE SPARINGLY — You must not constantly call friends and family with a stress alert, or they will soon stop taking your calls. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? If you call them with every litle mini-crisis, not only will you lose your friends but you will bore them to death in the process. Got it, Negative Nelly?

3. PRACTICE THE ART OF RECIPROCATION – You must make regular positive deposits into the bank of friendship, be there to support them when they need it, and be as positive as possible 90 percent of the time. They will be there to support you, knowing you have been there for them, knowing you are normally positive, and knowing that you are willing to act on their advice. Like a bank. Get it? You don’t want to be overdrawn in this account!

4. SOME VILLAGE IS MISSING THEIR IDIOT! Remember the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” When one ran into trouble on that show, there were various options, including removing 2 of the possible answers, polling the audience, or calling a friend. They didn’t just have one strategy, and neither should you (see #2 above). Use other stress reduction strategies BEFORE picking up that phone (for example, walk it off, have a warm bath and cup of tea). Chances are you will be more positive and well on your way to finding your own answers before you even talk to them.

5. BE GRATEFUL — It is actually IMPOSSIBLE to feel stress when one is practicing GRATITUDE. If I had stopped long enough this morning to be grateful for all the opportunities we have to work and generate a fantastic income, perhaps I could have short-circuited the stress response. Remember to be grateful for your friends, and thank them for being there for you! A little thanks goes a loooooong way!

6. BE THE FRIEND YOU WANT — We attract what we are, not what we want (ouch!). Want supportive, positive friends? BE ONE! I have friends so positive that I strive to embody their characteristics every day. Many days I fall short, but I keep striving for those ideals such as being other-centred, speaking with inspired thought, being fully-present every moment, and being calm — well, maybe in my next life, but in the meantime, we can practice together!

Do you have a best friend, family member or life partner that has helped YOU reduce your stress lately? We’d love to hear your story!!


  1. My experience indicates friendship is a topic of concern for many: my two Top Ten lists addressing the subject on receive twice as many hits as any of my others. In my dialogue circles participants commonly lament that their friendships have been sacrificed on the altar of business. One of my own most valuable learnings about friendship has been the concept of the Circle of Ten which asserts this is the maximum number of relationships we can fully nurture. Now I don’t believe the figure ten is true for everyone. On the other hand, I do believe that for each of us there is a maximum number of friendships which we can fully nourish and enjoy: unless we recognize that number, we end up with a huge crowd of acquaintances and increased stress as we strive to prevent losing any of them.

    • cscheers says:

      That Circle of Ten is interesting, Martin! I often lamented not having “enough” friends, but perhaps I have just the right number and just the right people, in my life! Thanks for sharing!

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