Good social relationships can help strengthen your overall health and wellbeing. Ultimately, good relationships can help you achieve more joy. As life gets busier, it can be difficult to retain or build new, authentic friendships.
Social interactions are particularly important for older adults. They help keep mental and physical health at its peak and boost the immune system. Some studies also suggest those who maintain close friendship groups may live longer, on average, than those who are socially isolated.
There are many ways to meet and interact with new or existing people in your life. Joining a community group, particularly if it is focused on a special interest is an easy way to meet like-minded people – for example an exercise group, a book, art or music club. You will likely learn something new (which will help keep your mind active) while you make new friends.
Being able to share your problems or difficulties with others can significantly improve your mental wellbeing because it will help you cope better with stress. Loneliness and isolation has negative impacts – including depression, anxiety, a loss of self-esteem and other mental health problems. The moral encouragement and confidence social groups provide can help alleviate or lessen this. A positive conversation can help induce hope and joy, which in turn can influence your attitude towards physical activity and encourage other positive health choices too.
While some of us crave social interactions more than others, even introverts should strive to have regular engagement with others. The quantity and quality of the intimate relationships we share with our spouses, family or close friends create a protective function for our health. They offer support, companionship and a friendly ear during difficult times. Sharing fun and enjoyment through friendships provides a potential source of wellbeing.
This may seem obvious, but it’s too easy to overlook the importance of good friendships, especially when the pressure of daily life makes us feel so time poor. Make time – regularly – to nurture your relationships.