Instafriends: Making Connections and Meeting IRL

Have you met my friend Tara aka @taralaferrara? She's a really cool girl, and just what you see online is what you get in real life. I first connected with Tara a few years ago through Instagram and we met IRL last year.

When I tell people I've met a lot of my friends through Instagram I get one of two reactions:

People think that's really amazing!

Others are perplexed with the look of 'you can't meet people in real life?'

That's not the case at all; I'm very social and do make friends in a real-life setting. But in today's day in age, the way we connect has shifted. I think it's a fantastic tool we have because it can put you in contact with interesting, like-minded people all around the globe. For many people, their online lives are an extension of their offline ones.

Tara hasn't been the only person I've met on Instagram.

There have been plenty of other amazing women that I've connected with on Instagram and later met in real life like my good and close friend Maxene (aka @MaxenesTrail) we were brought together for our love of food, cocktails and mutuals friends; Jo Encarnacion (aka @gofitjo) during a Barre3 retreat in Portland; Aurora during a trip to her home-base in Mexico City, Cristina Ricci (@addictedtolovely) an LA-based blogger and podcaster that is from the same area where I grew up. There was also my dear friend Bernadette (aka @petiteandtoned) also from San Francisco that came out to visit me in Portland.

We often associate online friendships as weaker or less genuine than those offline. But making friends online doesn’t mean they will not turn into real friendships. According to an article in the CyberPsychology journal, some people who meet online do eventually meet in offline settings. It is only natural that this happens because of the more profound connection and bonds made through shared common interests.

Making connections online is just like making connections in person but a bit better! Let me explain... We know everything there is to know about people's lives via our news feed on Instagram: what they ate for dinner, who they are dating, what products to try. Because of this, it helps to figure out whether you have similar interests that you can build a friendship on. 

Instagram in many ways helps us establish the shared interests and passions all of you shared. Mutual interests promote connection. Even though you barely knew each other, merely being authentically YOU and sharing your vulnerabilities that others can relate to help create a deeper relationship with others.

Making friends online, and maintaining these connections can essentially form an online emotional safety net. When people encounter struggles, they often want to talk about it and feel heard. Having these online friendships provides a safe space where people can discuss how they feel. It's not any more different than in real life and when you meet people in real life.

Have you made connections on Instagram and then met IRL? Share it with me on Instagram - @valeriefidan!

Valerie Fidan

Valerie is a San Francisco native who gave up the comforts of home to travel the world continuously. Now based in Portland, OR, Valerie is a Social Media Marketing Consultant, helping solo entrepreneurs and small business owners DIY their social media by teaching them the in’s and out’s of SMM. She enjoys health hacking recipes, a good cocktail, yoga, hikes, live shows, puns & dad jokes.

Everything You Need To Know About Surviving The Holidays

Oh, the holiday heebie jeebies – my nickname for the stress that often comes with the fullness of the holiday season. There’s family and fun and frivolity, yes, but there’s also a gaggle of other feelings that arise during this time of year – stress, and sometimes even the Christmas blues. I’m shedding some light on how to enjoy the holiday season feeling as jolly as Santa, himself.

Make your list. Check it twice.

Before the hustle and bustle of Christmas can even begin, I plan a trip. Ok, so it might be a bit late for this now being December 1st, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a staycation. Nothing says laughter and love like your best girl friends. Get a group message started, buy the tickets, reserve the hotel, and even figure out which activities everyone wants to do. This way, there are no excuses for me to be able to get away and clear my head.

Planning out the activities ahead of time leaves me at ease while I am there and eliminates any sort of stress that could arise. Sometimes, though, no schedule is the best schedule. Wherever or whatever you can think of as a place you can relax for a couple days, I strongly suggest you make it happen for yourself. Do something that makes it solidified though, so that there is no turning back. Don’t leave it out there as just as idea. If you do, you’ll find excuses not to go.

Wake Up Positive.

Your attitude is in your control. You can wake up with a positive attitude; you just have to tell yourself that is how you will be. Wake up with intention to set how you would like your mood the rest of the day. Honor yourself and your emotions. It is okay to feel the way you feel, even if it is negative, but telling yourself that you will have a positive outlook will help just start your mood to transition to just that. Maybe doing something small for yourself that day will help clear some negative energy. Maybe it something as simple as a compliment, or maybe a manicure or maybe you have the time to treat yourself to a massage. Whatever it may be, find a way to rid the negative and let in the positive. For me, I’ve found that keeping a gratitude journal has helped. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night.

Find Peace.

If you are feeling moments where everything seems a bit overwhelming…just breath. In times of anxiousness our breathing pattern changes. An anxious breathe is too long of an inhale without the same length of an exhale. Pay attention to your breathing. Make sure to balance your inhales with your exhales. A balanced breathe brings balance to the body and brain. Paying attention for just a few moments can bring your anxiousness down to create more clarity in the moment.

Dance it out. Create a Mini Dance Party.

Think of a upbeat song that makes you happy. Play that song as loud as you can and just let the moment take over your body. All it takes is a few minutes to sing at the top of your lungs and shake your booty!  It will get the blood flowing, the endorphins released and send happiness throughout your whole body!

Dress Comfy

The last thing you need through stress and chaos is wiggling your body into uncomfortable clothes. My favorite go to item to dress up are simply workout leggings. The same leggings I would wear to workout in, I will dress up for a night on the town. They are super versatile and hug by body in all the right places. Take a pair of leggings, throw on an oversized cozy sweater, grab your booties, a long necklace and you are ready to go! Stylish, yet comfortable enough to roll around on the ground with the little ones in the family you will be seeing over the holidays. One of my fav brands? LA-based, CoEd Active!

Give Yourself a Break.

Even if you have done your normal routines to help create a positive mind, and you find yourself still a Negative-Nancy, it is ok! We’re allowed to feel the way we feel. Feel the feels, and let it out if you need to. Sometimes you just need to ride the wave and let the feeling pass instead of forcing it to pass. I have a difficult time with this, but the one thing that I’ve learned about myself and divorce this year is that you need to accept and acknowledge those feelings or they’ll be knocking at your door sooner or later. Just remember not to add to the negativity and be hard on yourself for feeling down. We are all allowed to have bad moments or even days, you are human, everything will be just fine! Be kind to yourself.

All-in-all, remember, the holidays are about love and laughter. Sure they come with stress and seeming overwhelmingly busy, but it is because you have a lot of wonderful people in your life that you want to spend your time with. Remind yourself of that. This time of year is made to appreciate those that are in our lives and create beautiful memories with one another!

Practicing Gratitude

Each one of us is in the pursuit of happiness. We aren’t on Earth just to exist. We want a full life. We want to make the most of our days. For many of us, happiness is a mercurial and elusive concept. But it's not. Boost your happiness by practicing gratitude daily.

5 WAYS TO PRACTICING GRATITUDE ON THE DAILY

Studies suggest that writing in a gratitude journal three times a week might actually have a greater impact on our happiness than journaling.

Practicing gratitude is something that I’ve made a personal goal of this past year. Since keeping a gratitude journal, I've noticed that it's helped me be more appreciative, more aware, and more observant. It's helped me feel more grounded and much happier. 

Instead of focusing on the things that I don't have or haven't experienced, keeping a gratitude journal helps me focus on the things that I do have and experiences I've had.

Ready to start a gratitude journal? Here are some of my tips for getting started:

Pick a journal. You could choose one small enough to slip in your purse or a bigger one to keep on your nightstand.

Keep tabs on the happy moments. When something good happens to you, take a moment to write it down. How did it make you feel? By jotting down the good, happy moments, you're making it a habit to focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.

Set an intention. Before you start your day, take a moment to set an intention for the day. It can be something that you are grateful for or an affirmation for the day. Don't know where to start? When I first started journaling I used to take the daily quote from my yogi tea. It helped a lot! As I got the hang of things, my daily affirmation and intentions just started to come naturally. 

Nightly gratitude. Before you go to bed at night, take time to capture your favorite moment of the day. What made you smile today? This will help you to appreciate things in your life. You’ll be amazed how much you were missing when you do. 

Ask yourself this... What are you grateful for today? What is one thing that made you smile today? Let me know in the comments on Instagram! Find me on Instagramtwitter and facebook