When you have great friends, it’s good for your heart–literally. Studies show that people with a robust social network experience a 50 percent higher chance of survival in the later years. Yet, when was the last time you made a new friend? Was it at work? In PTA? At church or synagogue? Something that was common practice during our school years gets a little more difficult as we age. But it’s worth the effort to get back into the habit of building new friendships.
“You may be out of practice when it comes to making new friends, but it is important to make the effort,” says Deanna Hill, administrator at English Oaks Convalescent and Rehabilitation. “Having strong social connections can not only boost your mental health but your physical health as well.”
In a recent Daily Herald article, Amy Osmond Cook shares three strategies to maintain a strong network of friends. One way encourages us to help each other, another friend sports four legs, and the final idea inspires us to help others through friendship. Check it out!
Join a support group
When you discover a group of people who can relate to your life experiences or share a common interest, you’ve established a solid foundation for a new friend group. Support groups can be an excellent way to make lasting connections.
Get a pet
A dog is called “man’s best friend” for a reason. Pets are fantastic listeners and never judge you on poor decisions, like when you paint the bathroom magenta or take up curling when you struggle with back problems, for instance.
But along with that unconditional love and understanding, owning a pet gives you a simple conversation starter when walking in the neighborhood or visiting a nearby dog park. More importantly, during those lonely moments, that physical connection with a trusted, four-legged friend offers incredible comfort.
Volunteering offers another built-in common factor for those participating by helping you be a more social person with those who share your desire to help. And since volunteering often requires dealing with the public, an introverted person can build confidence while developing other skills like public speaking or leadership skills. All of these factors will help you make new friends. Best of all, it enables you to connect with your community and the people you are helping.
Whether you have one good friend or a whole pile of peers, connecting with people is essential. Find a way that works for you and have fun putting yourself out there.
To read the full article, click here.