06 Feb 2022
Many of us go through spells when it feels like we are losing our connections to family and friends.
Going on outdoor adventures, exploring new places and discovering new things together rekindles friendships, injects fresh energy and variety into our relationships.
That’s what I discovered while organising AWOL (adventurous women on the loose) adventures for over a decade for a diverse group of women of different ages, life stages and backgrounds. These experiences inspired me to write a book about Going AWOL*.
Shared outdoor activities in relaxed settings strengthen connections between friends, developing more empathy for one another.
Walking in nature lifts our spirits and the conversation flows more freely. We can spread out, sometimes being alone to enjoy the surroundings, and at other times, walking beside one another.
Being together outdoors surrounded by nature strengthens bonds and builds connections. Quite different from the digital connections that flourished during a global pandemic.
Both have their place.
Friendships make us healthier when combined with good habits, like going on walks and bike rides together. Making time for friends is just as important as exercising for our overall well-being.
What makes AWOL adventures really special is the company of female friends, the camaraderie and the robust conversations; that’s the nature of our group. Sometimes we invite along partners and male friends.
Lydia Denworth’s book* on friendship highlights the importance of companionship and cooperation and having positive relationships in our lives.
At different life stages, we have shifting friendships. As circumstances change, we have opportunities to make new friends while also valuing long-term friends.
Although it is not easy, sometimes we need to free ourselves from old ties, especially when they are holding us back from making transitions.
Mutually rewarding friendships help us succeed and thrive. This is particularly important with intergenerational friendships which widen our perspectives and we learn from those different perspectives.
Proximity matters. Face-to-face interaction is important for cultivating and maintaining relationships.
Having diverse relationships also boosts our health and well-being. Interesting things happen when people from diverse backgrounds with different life experiences come together to discover new things.
Quality friendships emerge when we give our time to others so that we understand and are understood. When we nurture our friends by spending time together, it is time well spent.
'I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' – Maya Angelou
* Find out more about AWOL real-life shared adventures in Going AWOL – Inspiration and Insights from Adventurous Women On the Loose – due for release in March 2022.
* Lydia Denworth, Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond (London, 2020).