It kills us to be lonely. Not having good friends is about as harmful to your health as being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to research from Brigham Young University. Another study showed people with at least three close buddies at work were 96 percent more likely to be “extremely satisfied” with their life.
Great Health Benefits
Research shows you can experience less stress, depression, boost your immune system, reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, improve cognition, live longer, and lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Friends vs Family Relationships
Close relationships with children and relatives, however, have almost no effect on longevity. Lynne C. Giles, a researcher who conducted one of these studies. She said family connections are important but have little effect on survival.
We are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic. In recent years the number of people who have friends they can talk to about important issues has dropped by one-third and has tripled up to 25 percent. Researchers believe that our tremendous use of technology along with a large workload may influence the decline of friends and close relationships.
Tips on making new friends
Old friends are like an anchor on your boat in life. They are lifesavers, holders of our deepest secrets and loyal to the grave. This is one of life’s greatest blessings.
New friends bring a fresh outlook to our lives. They bring a new perspective to all aspects of our life. New friends have “new eyes” into our lives. They can bring in new energy, new possibilities, and new adventures.
- Join up. Join organizations or take classes in areas of interest to you. Try a class in yoga, tai chi or meditation classes. Volunteer with an organization you are passionate about such as one that helps animals, children, the environment or a hospital. This gives you an opportunity to meet like-minded people that could be good friends and share your passions.
- Work. Coworkers are a good place to meet new friends. Go for a meal with a co-worker, go to an event after work or a business meeting. Work is a great place to meet new friends.
- Your pit stops. Become aware of the people you meet daily at Starbucks, your grocery store or favorite shop. You like some people at these places or you wouldn’t keep going back. Is there someone you would like to invite to lunch or coffee to get to know them better?
- One step at a time. It is normal to feel a little anxious about becoming vulnerable and risking rejection when you begin to make new friends. Take each step slow and get a good foundation and you will feel more secure. Some friendships will be shallow and others may develop into a long term deep friendship.