Posted: February 22, 2011
Last Updated: February 22, 2011
Friendships can give a person a sense of belonging and support that helps boost mental health while lowering the likelihood depression. So building a network of supportive friends, or even just one supportive relationship, can be vital to your wellbeing. A recent study at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina found that people with friendships have a 50 percent higher rate of survival as compared to those people with poor or insufficient relationships, making a good friendship compatible with quitting smoking in terms of survival benefits.
Finding friends can sometimes seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re stressed by relocating to a new community, changing schools, switching jobs or even having a close friend leave or passes away. But once you start looking for a new friend, you will find them in the most unexpected places.
A great way to start finding friends is to connect with the broader community. People who are involved in their community have wider social circles and report more positive social interactions, because they have a feeling of connection since they share time with people who have the similar interests. For instance, many communities have bird watching, astronomy or exercise groups available. Taking a class in something that has always been of interest could offer the opportunity to meet new people and expand your knowledge. Local support groups for a specific issue like parenting, dealing with a health problem, or caring for a loved one who’s ill offer great opportunities to meet people. A great way to meet people is to volunteer with a community organization or charity in whose cause or values you believe.
Think about the people you interact with daily, do you have any common interest or do you want to get to know any of them better? Think about neighbors, co-workers, people you pass regularly or people you interact with. Do you want to get to know any of them better? It might be the perfect opportunity to make a new friend.
If you’re shy or hesitant, try asking a few questions to get the conversation started. Try making a social calendar to visit with people you know or would like to get to know. By getting out and about, you can see and meet new people who you share common interests. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce on events and activities going on in your community.
Remember friendship is a two-way street and requires positive emotional investment. Ask your friends how they feel, keep in contact with them, listen to what they have to say. Use your intuition to find friends who give you positive support and interactions, and don’t be afraid of letting go of a friend who makes you feel bad about yourself, doesn’t share your interests or that you just don’t connect with well. Even if you were at one time close, people change and grow in different directions. That doesn’t mean there’s something ‘wrong’ with either of you. But if someone in your life is no longer good for you, it’s perfectly acceptable to let them go.
If you could use some advice and support to make friends or deal with the friends you have call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649; in Luna County, call 546-2174. For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.