You may have come across memes and quotes stating “Check on your strong friend.” With recent and sudden losses of well-known public figures, we are now shining a light on our strongest, most reliable friends.
The “strong” friend is the friend that appears to have it all together. They are resilient helpers that always show up for their loved ones and help keep the group together.
The strong friend is often the glue to our friendships or families. They are the ones we go to when we need a listening ear and they are the ones that break up the fights and resolve the conflicts.
Our strong friends hold many important roles in our lives and are generous with their time, energy and love. But their constant giving has an end. Y’all, our strong friends get tired too.
If you’re reading this as the strong friend in your friend group or in your family, here’s an air hug from me to you! You are a loving, caring person that deserves space and time for self-care. Here are 5 ideas to try to practice self-care as the strongest friend:
It’s important to create and maintain boundaries.
As the strong friend, many people ask many things do you. Setting and reinforcing boundaries is a key component of your self-care that will help in you not doing everything for everyone.
Pick and choose how you want to be there for your loved ones and know that saying “no” does not mean you care any less.
Know that you cannot help everyone.
In the same breath, know that folks will sometimes try to take advantage of your kindness. Recognize that stronger boundaries may need to be set with these folks. You may have to practice saying no, restate and reinforce boundaries and you may need to sometimes disconnect from those who do not respect your boundaries.
Give yourself permission to feel.
As the strong friend, you may often hold the feelings of others in their time of need. This may mean that you push down, avoid, deny or minimize your own feelings to be in service for others. As part of your self-care, make sure you are creating space for you to identify your own feelings and giving yourself permission to feel those feelings.
Prioritize your needs.
In giving yourself permission to feel, try your best to put your self-care needs first. There’s a good chance that your loved ones, friends, children and work responsibilities take up a lot of space on your priority list. Try to rearrange your schedule so that your needs are being met on a regular basis.
Find safe spaces and people to be vulnerable with.
Vulnerability is a difficult feeling to come by when you are the strong friend. Often, you are the one providing safe spaces for others. See that you also have safe spaces to express yourself freely, express your anger, cry, and all the feelings in-between.
Safe people could include the loved ones that check on you and ask about your well-being (without switching the subject back to themselves!) and people who do not shame or blame you for what you are feeling. Therapy or counseling can also be safe spaces for you to get the support you need.
What self-care ideas can you think of for the strong friends?