The Mayo Clinic offers the following suggestions to improve your mental state by focusing on relationships and friendships. Most important, they offer several suggestions to strengthen relationships as well as ways to make new friends.
Why Friendships are so Important
The connections of friendship can:
- Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
- Boost your happiness
- Reduce stress
- Improve your self-worth
- Decrease your risk of serious mental illness
- Help you weather traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
- Encourage you to change unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
- Share in your good times, such as a new baby, a new job, a new house
Ways to Actively Seek Out Friendships
Some people need more friends. Some people need less. One thing is clear, sometimes developing new friendships is difficult: new communities, busy schedules, lack of hobbies, – all can lead to a more difficult time finding new friends. Developing good friendships does take some work. But remember, friends do not have to be your age or share a similar cultural, religious, or educational background.
Here are some ways you can develop friendships:
- Get out with your pet. Seek out a popular dog park, make conversation with those who stop to talk on your daily neighborhood jaunts, or make pet play dates.
- Work out. Join a class through a local gym, senior center or community fitness facility. Or start a lunchtime walking group at work.
- Do lunch. Invite an acquaintance to join you for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Accept invites. When you’re invited to a party, dinner or social gathering, say yes. Resist the urge to say no just because you may not know everyone there or because you may initially feel awkward. You can always leave if you get too uncomfortable.
- Volunteer. Hospitals, places of worship, museums, community centers, charitable groups and other organizations often need volunteers. You can form strong connections when you work with people who share a mutual interest.
- Join a cause. 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.
- Join a hobby group. Find a nearby group with similar interests in such things as auto racing, music, gardening, books or crafts.
- Go back to school. Take a college or community education course to meet people with similar interests.
- Hang out on your porch. Front porches used to be social centers for the neighborhood. If you don’t have a front porch, you can still pull up a chair and sit out front with a cup of coffee or a good book. Making yourself visible shows that you are friendly and open.
- Join a church or faith community. Many churches and faith communities welcome new members.
Remember, even the most mundane meeting can be the start of a life-time friendship. I’m interested. Share with me which of these you will do this week.
Source: National Wellness Institute