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Why Time With Friends is Essential for Your Mental Health

Having close friends can be like having a second family. He or she can laugh with you, cry with you, and even share the most intimate secrets of your life. ‌Your life is better when there is someone in it who can ‌support you when you are down, and celebrate your successes alongside‌ ‌you.

What’s more, the quality of your friendships can have a significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing. ‌However, building and maintaining them can be challenging. ‌Here are some tips for fostering new friendships and understanding the importance of friendships in your life.

Reduced‌ ‌stress levels.

Everyone‌ ‌experiences‌ ‌stressful‌ ‌events from time to time. ‌A difficult time may not seem stressful if you know you can rely on others. ‌

When was the last time you felt upset or worried about something? ‌A friend may have listened to your concerns and helped brainstorm solutions with you. ‌If you have friends who care about you and want to help, potential stressors can't build up and cause significant distress.

Friendships promote a sense of belonging.

Feeling included in a group of friends, no matter what the reason,‌ ‌is‌ ‌beneficial. ‌According to a 2015 study published in Psychiatry, feeling a sense of belonging can lower feelings of depression and hopelessness.

A friend provides‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌support.

A friend can help you through a difficult time if you find yourself going through one.

According to research, friends are contagious when they are happy. ‌In one study of high school students, those with happy friends had a better chance of recovering from depression. Additionally, kids were half as likely to develop depression if their friends had a "healthy mood.”

Friends can boost confidence and self-esteem.

Every now and then, we all experience self-doubt and insecurities. ‌However, having friends who support you is critical to building your self-esteem and self-confidence.

When you feel unsure, supportive friends can offer praise and reassurance. ‌By doing so, they will show you just how amazing you are and how much you are able to contribute.

Friendships tend to make us happier.

According to a study published in PLoS One in June 2019, social connections (measured by cellphone activity) predict happiness and general wellness better than fitness tracker data, such as heart rate and exercise levels.

Associating with happy people, especially if they live nearby, is also helpful. A study of over 4,000 adults found that living within a mile of a happy friend increases your chances of being happy by 25%.

Healthy behaviors are encouraged by friends.

It is possible that friendship can contribute to your well-being by helping you make lifestyle changes. ‌A friend can help you set and maintain goals for eating better and exercising more, for instance. As well as watching out for you, they can alert you if any unhealthy behaviors, such as substance abuse, emerge.

Furthermore, when people do exercise or weight loss with a friend, they are more likely to stick with it. ‌With a friend by your side, you are more likely to stay active.

Physical health is improved by friends.

A healthy relationship actually contributes‌ ‌to‌ ‌good‌ ‌physical‌ ‌health. ‌You are less likely to suffer from diabetes, heart attacks, or strokes if you have close friends.

A strong social network may also decrease loneliness, which has been shown to shorten lifespans. ‌In 2010, a review found that people with strong relationships are half as likely to die prematurely from any cause.

How can you make‌ ‌new‌ ‌friends?

In your social network, you can form friendships with people you already know. ‌Identify people with whom you have had positive interactions - even in a very casual way.

Making new friends and nurturing existing relationships is possible‌ ‌by:

  • Keeping in touch with former colleagues and classmates

  • Meeting up with old friends again

  • Taking the initiative to reach out to people you've enjoyed chatting with at social events

  • Getting to know your‌ ‌neighbors

  • Spending time with family

Feel free to reach out if someone stands out to you and you’d like to know better. ‌Reintroduce yourself with a text, email or in-person visit, or ask mutual friends or acquaintances to share the person's contact information. ‌Offer to meet for‌ ‌coffee‌ ‌or‌ ‌lunch.

You can also meet new people by going to places where others gather. Don't limit yourself to one strategy for meeting people. ‌Your chances of making new friends, or nurturing existing relationships, increase the broader your efforts.

Also, persistence is crucial. ‌As an example, don't wait for invitations to come your way; take the initiative. ‌It may take a few suggestions before you determine if there is mutual interest in a new friend.

Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Participate in‌ ‌community‌ ‌events. ‌Find groups or clubs online or in the local paper that share your interests or hobbies.

  • Volunteer. ‌You can volunteer with a hospital, place of worship, museum, community center, charitable group, or any other organization that needs you. You can form strong connections when you work with people who have mutual interests.

  • Become interested in something new. ‌Meet people with similar interests by taking a college or community education course. ‌Become a member of a local gym, senior center, or community fitness center.

  • Get involved in‌ ‌a‌ ‌faith‌ ‌community. ‌New members can take advantage of special activities and events to get to know each other.

  • Take a walk. ‌Get to know your neighbors or go to a popular park and chat with them.

The most important thing is to‌ ‌stay‌ ‌positive. ‌If you maintain a friendly stance and demeanor, you're more likely to make friends with people you meet.

The psychological limits of friendship.

You should remember that friendship is not a substitute for mental health treatment, despite its ability to support you through ups and downs.

Seek mental health treatment if your emotional experiences are affecting your functioning.

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