MHM: Friendship for Wellbeing
Friendships impact our health and wellbeing, but it can be difficult to build and maintain friendships. Understand what you can do to develop and nurture friendships to support your wellness.
Good friends are good for your health.
Research shows that social relationships have a protective effect on our physical health. Adults with strong social supports have a reduced risk of developing serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. In addition, social integration has a protective effect, improving health outcomes after the onset of disease and reducing the risk of mortality.
Friendships are also protective of our mental health. Social support networks can:
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
Boost your happiness and reduce stress
Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
Help you cope with traumas
Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
What is a "healthy" number of friends for wellbeing?
There is no golden rule for how many friends we need to support our wellbeing. The quality of the connection is more valuable than the number of connections. 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 the ways to meet new friends?
Attend community events
Extend & accept invitations
Take up a new interest
Join an organization you are passionate about to meet like-minded folks
How to nurture your existing friendships:
Be kind. Every act of kindness and expression of gratitude help foster positive interactions.
Listen up. Ask what's going on in your friends' lives.
Make yourself available. Building a close friendship takes time. Make an effort to see new friends regularly, and to check in with them in between meet-ups.
Manage your nerves with mindfulness. You may find yourself imagining the worst of social situations, and feel tempted to stay home. Use mindfulness exercises to reshape your thinking! You got this.
Remember, it's never too late to build new friendships or reconnect with old friends. Investing time in making friends and strengthening your friendships can pay off in better health and a brighter outlook for years to come.