Friends and Your Health
Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to build or maintain friendships. Understand the importance of friendships in your life and what you can do to develop and nurture friendships.
What are the benefits of friendships?
Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
Why is it sometimes hard to make friends or maintain friendships?
Many adults find it hard to develop new friendships or keep up existing friendships. Friendships may take a back seat to other priorities, such as work or caring for children or aging parents. You and your friends may have grown apart due to changes in your lives or interests. Or maybe you’ve moved to a new community and haven’t yet found a way to meet people.
Developing and maintaining good friendships takes effort. The enjoyment and comfort friendship can provide, however, makes the investment worthwhile.
What’s a healthy number of friends?
Quality counts more than quantity. While it’s good to cultivate a diverse network of friends and acquaintances, you also want to nurture a few truly close friends who will be there for you through thick and thin.
What are some ways to meet new people?
To meet new people who might become your friends, you have to go to places where others are gathered. Don’t limit yourself to one strategy for meeting people. The broader your efforts, the greater your likelihood of success.
For example, try several of these ideas:
Attend community events. Get together with a group of people working toward a goal you believe in, such as an election or the cleanup of a natural area. Find a group with similar interests in an activity, such as auto racing, gardening, reading or making crafts.
Volunteer. Offer your time or talents at a hospital, place of worship, museum, community center, charitable group or other organization. You can form strong connections when you work with people who have mutual interests.
Extend and accept invitations. Invite a friend to join you for coffee or lunch. When you’re invited to a social gathering, say yes. Contact someone who recently invited you to an activity and return the favor.
Take up a new interest. Take a college or community education course to meet people who have similar interests. Join a class at a local gym, senior center or community fitness facility.
Join a faith community. Take advantage of special activities and get-to-know-you events for new members.