Friendships are the foundation of life. Is there a connection between your health and your circle of friends? How do you find friends and keep them for life?
Friendships are not always easy to build and keep; however, we must understand how they impact your health and what you can do to promote and nurture friendships.
How can you benefit from friendships? Devoted friends play an important role in your health; they laugh with you, celebrate good times with you, and support you during bad times.
What a lonely life it would be without the companionship of good friends - someone who is always there for you!
- will increase your feeling of purpose and belonging,
- increase your feeling of well being,
- decrease stress,
- improve your self esteem,
- will support you when faced with life shattering traumas such as having a serious illness, losing your job, getting a divorce, death of a loved one,
- will encourage you to change or avoid habits that are unhealthy such as excessive drinking, smoking, or lack of exercise.
Why do we find it hard at times to makes friends - or worse yet - are unable to keep them?
It is tragic that as we get older and become adults that we find it hard to develop new friends or hold on to the existing friendships. With so many things going on in our lives such as work, caring for children or aging parents, we run the risk of drifting apart due to changes in our lives or interests. Moving to another part of the country is an especially difficult period since we will miss having our closest friends nearby and would not have had the time to cultivate new ones.
Go for the quality in your relationships with friends, not the numbers. There are friends with whom you feel comfortable discussing your innermost thoughts and other friends with whom you would enjoy doing various activities.
How do you go about meeting new people in order to develop friendships?
- Circulate, go for walks, take your dog with you if you have one, head for the park, and start a conversation. You would be surprised at the welcoming reception you will get! Due to modern technology (which seems to be the new way to communicate, lacking the human touch), we do not often talk with each other face-to-face like we used to;
- Try signing up for activities at your local spa, gym, or senior community center;
- Ask an acquaintance to be your guest for coffee or lunch;
- Say "Yes" when invited to a social gathering and return the favor to the individual who invited you;
- Volunteer your time or talents to various organizations - you can form strong relationships when you interact with people of similar interests;
- Attend community events - get involved - find a group that shares your passion for sports, gardening, crafts, reading, film societies, theatre, cycling,... ;
- Upgrade your schooling in an area of interest to you - this gives you the opportunity to meet other people with the same interest;
- Join your religious community - this will open doors for you since most communities have an active range of activities.
Stay positive; keep a friendly attitude so that people will want to meet you and get to know you.
Friendship is affected by social media. Joining a chat or online community can help you make or keep connections and offset loneliness; however, this does not necessarily result in a network of offline relationships with online members. Be sure to be cautious when giving out or sharing personal information when engaging in a activity with someone you only met online.
Here are some good guides for making friends:
- do not overwhelm friends - go easy - keep the phone calls, text messages,... , to a comfortable limit - respect their boundaries;
- do not compete or outdo each other;
- have a realistic self image - adapt a healthy outlook on life and adopt a healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise;
- avoid the two biggest turnoffs to potential friends: vanity and self criticism;
- be positive - look for the lighter side of life - laughter is infectious and appealing - it sets the stage for a more relaxing interaction between both parties.
- avoid constant complaining - discuss your issues with your confidants - they may be willing to help you;
- be a good listener - you may hear what your friends are saying about what is going on in their lives, however, do you truly listen to their concerns? Give advice only when your friends ask for it;
- do not be judgmental;
- guard their privacy - keep that personal information that your friends share with you confidential - do not question your friends in those areas that may make them uncomfortable.
Keep in mind that age is no barrier in looking for new friends or reconnecting with old friends. Take the time to meet new friends and strengthen the bond with the ones you presently have - it is an investment in better health and happiness in the years to come.
Promoting and nurturing friendships is a give-and-take situation. In some cases you need the support of a good friend and other times you will be there to offer your support. Let your friends know that you truly care about them and appreciate them; this will strengthen the bond of friendship. Friendships are a two-way relationship - you have to give as well as take.
Remember - strangers are friends you have not met yet.
Via Les Gefland