7 ways friends can help you as you age

October 2, 2015

Positive social connections are crucial to your health. Here's some facts about socializing as you age, and how to put yourself out there.

7 ways friends can help you as you age

1. Loneliness hurts, friends help

  • Loneliness raises levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream.
  • As a result, stress may play a role in firing up chronic inflammation — a risk for heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
  • The biggest danger posed by having too few friends: It becomes a habit that could rob you of happiness in the future, when you may need it most.
  • In one study of people in their seventies, those whose health declined felt far happier and more satisfied with their lives if they still had a social life.
  • In another study, researchers tracked older Manitoban men for six years. Those who had more social connections felt happier, were more able to live independently, and were even less likely to die during the study.

2. Friends help break your social barriers

  • Mental blocks can prevent you from reaching out.
  • Shyness, insecurity, low self-confidence can all get in the way of making new friends or reviving old ties.
  • All of these can be overcome, and the benefits of doing so can be immediate.
  • More social interactions will have a less-than-subtle positive effect on your mood, making you much more happy, engaged, and confident.
  • These emotions can benefit every aspect of your health.

3. People want to be friends

  • With whom from your past would you most enjoy being closer? The answer could be friends, former co-workers, family members, even people who impressed you the first time you met them.
  • Put them in order, and commit to a plan to contact them in a slow but steady sequence.

4. Answering and asking questions keeps you engaged

  • As you begin to reach out to social connections new or old, you're going to be asked a lot of questions about you, your recent past, and your plans for the future.
  • Anticipate them and work on your answers ahead of time.
  • This will greatly help your confidence and will help you focus on positive, attractive messages.

5. Friends make hobbies even better

Do you play the clarinet? Join the town band. Do you love the theater? Have a special skill or collection? Find others with the same interests.

6. Small interactions have big benefits

Do lots of little interactions. You'll find that these little conversations are great fun and bolster your confidence.

7. Together, friends build communities

  • Volunteer with a local organization that performs good works in your community.
  • With age, each of us should be more willing to donate our wisdom, time, and skills to help our communities.
  • The benefit will be great conversations and newfound relationships.

Unless you're the rare loner who truly thrives on going solo, spending too much time by yourself can, over time, raise your odds for heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, muddled thinking, and sleep problems. Get out there and be social. It can make you both happier and healthier.

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