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How important are friendships? Very important, according to experienced psychologists, numerous research studies… and common sense. A good friend can provide emotional support, be a salve for loneliness and simply improve the quality of your life. Writing for Healthline.com, Jillian Goltzman says “Friendship is an essential part of the human experience… Some studies even refer to it as a proverbial ‘vaccine’ for improved health.”
For young people, opportunities for building friendships abound. They meet like-minded people in school, on the job, as they participate in or attend sporting events — the chances to meet new people and make friends seems to be endless. Then life intercedes. Your day-to-day routine may consist of work, family and some recreation or exercise, rarely presenting you with new acquaintances. In retirement, some people find themselves even further isolated. But don’t despair — there are easy ways to make friends at any point in life, and the benefits are substantial.
Goltzman offers 10 tips for making friends no matter your age. Here are a few to get you started:
Make time for your hobbies. Whether you’re still working or retired, keeping interests in hobbies or recreational activities is a wonderful way to keep yourself sharp, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. If you’ve let your passion for a hobby or other interest lapse, it’s time to renew it. Even better, as Goltzman says, “Hobbies often fall off our to-do lists when life gets busy, but they can be a helpful tool in meeting others with like-minded interests.”
Join a community or volunteer group. Service to community can be a genuine source of self-fulfillment. In addition, once again, there’s a side benefit: “Community groups and volunteer programs can create a consistent routine that provides a natural rapport over time,” Goltzman points out. “As you get to know these peers, you’ll likely have an easier time building deeper friendships.”
Make the space and time for new friendships. It should be self-evident that developing friendships takes time, but people often use their busy schedule as an excuse for not socializing. If you truly see the value in building a deep relationship with a friend, make it a priority.
Look at the people you already know. Wherever you socialize, at church or in a workout class, in a book club or even a regular happy hour, you may have casual acquaintances that you don’t see outside of that venue. Reaching out to some of these people is a perfect way to deepen already existing relationships. After all, they share an interest and you have the benefit of having a sense of who you have some chemistry with.