If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need people in our lives. Friends and family are vital to our well-being and essential for navigating life’s challenges, including illness, grief, unemployment and, yes, even a pandemic. With that in mind, here are some important reasons to nurture the friendships in your life as well as some tips for finding a few close friends.
Friends are good for your mental and physical health.
People with more social connections tend to experience fewer significant health problems, including everything from depression to high blood pressure. They may even live longer. This may be in large part due to the decreased isolation and loneliness, which can be detrimental to your health over a prolonged period of time.
You don’t always need a lot of friends to accomplish this, however. One or two good friends can make a world of difference in your life. These are the people who listen to your problems, celebrate your accomplishments and help guide you through the difficult times.
Friends offer emotional support when you need it.
A good friend is someone who is by your side to celebrate the good times and coach you through life’s traumas and disappointments. This goes a long way toward improving your self-confidence, reducing stress and increasing your overall happiness. Friends are vital during times of grief and unhappiness, but they also play a key role in sharing your triumphs and successes. Just be sure to do the same for them when the time comes.
Friends can influence you in a positive way.
The more friends you have, the greater the opportunity to develop skills, reach goals and stimulate your thinking. This can help with everything from advancing your career to meeting your life partner. The skills you attain can contribute to your overall success in life. That’s why it’s important not to limit yourself to like-minded friends. Instead, push yourself to meet people who may not think or act like you do.
Friends can help reduce stress in your life.
Laughter, intimate talks and strong social connections—these are the things that help offset the stress in your life. When you need someone to talk to or help with an important decision, a good friend who is willing to listen can help. This is vital for reducing stress that might otherwise consume you. At the same time, hearty hugs, handshakes and smiles send a message that someone cares about you. And that’s a giant stress-reliever!
It’s not always easy to make friends, and for some people it’s downright difficult. Here are a few tips that might help:
- Look up old friends and rekindle those relationships
- Introduce yourself to neighbors and start a conversation
- Volunteer for an organization or cause
- Reach out to people in your faith community
- Take a walk and talk to people you encounter
- Call or text someone you met at a recent event
- Take a class or learn a new skill
- Invite people into your home for dinner or a small gathering
- Find a way to meet in person with friends you encounter on social media
- Attend social gatherings and community events
- Join a group or club
- Invite someone you know to meet for coffee
- Be nice to others
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.