The importance of friends cannot be overstated. Maintaining a healthy group of friends can help relieve stress by enabling a person to have a go-to network of close companions with whom to share the ups and downs of life. The Mayo Clinic says that friends can increase one’s sense of belonging and purpose; help one cope with trauma; encourage change, including avoiding unhealthy lifestyle habits; and help one improve his or her self-confidence and self-worth. The medical group also says that people with strong social support systems have a reduced risk of depression, high blood pressure and unhealthy weights.
While friends are important, some people find that making new friends – particularly in adulthood – can be challenging. That’s because making friends may not be too great a priority compared to caring for families or tending to work responsibilities. Those resolving to broaden their social circles can explore these tips for making new friends.
· Start at school. School is often the first place children make friends, but school also can be a great place for adults to meet new people. By attending school functions, you will be thrust into a circle of people similar to you. Parents who get to know their childrens’ friends’ parents may find that they have more in common than just their children.
· Join groups. Kids find it easy to make friends due to consistency. They see the same kids each day at school and through sports teams and clubs. Adults can replicate this consistency by joining groups that spark their interests, finding like-minded people who meet week after week.
· Go on a blind “date.” Have a friend set you up with a mutual friend and see if there is a connection there. You may be able to make new friends simply from an introduction.
· Take the lead. Pursue a new friendship by taking some initiative. Invite someone out for coffee or over to your home for a glass of wine. Follow up afterward to say you had a good time.
· Be positive. Be conscious of what you are adding to a potential friendship. Start off the relationship adding value and joy to the other person’s life, and he or she may be more inclined to do the same. Over time, you can have conversations about rough patches in your lives but wait until the friendship is firmly established to get so serious.
There is no magic number of friends a person should have, but individuals should value quality over quantity. Making friends may seem complicated, but it is actually easier than adults may think when they put themselves out there and shows a willingness to build relationships.