“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The importance of friendships

Hey, folks! I'm getting ready for a big comprehensive exam this weekend so, I haven't had time to write-all I've been doing is reading the "The Encyclopedia of Counseling." Fun! (read: sarcasm).  

Anyway, since my friends have been showing me so much love and support, I thought it would be good to share with you some reasons why friends are important (besides the obvious reasons).  I found this article on the Mayo Clinic website and thought I'd share an excerpt (to read the whole article click here).  In the future, I'd like to tell you more about the importance of friendships or social capital as researchers call it. 

Why friendships are so important

Good friends are good for your health. Talking with a friend over a cup of coffee, going to a ballgame together, chatting while your kids check out the playground, or hitting the links for a round of golf can offer simple but powerful ways to connect. The connections of friendship increase your sense of belonging, purpose and self-worth, promoting positive mental health.
Friendships can help you weather the trauma of a divorce, a job loss or the death of a loved one. Your friends may encourage you to change unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking. Or they may urge you to visit your doctor when you feel overly anxious, sad or hopeless. Friends can also share in your good times — a new baby, a new job, a new house.
They can celebrate the good times with you or offer comfort during the bad. Just knowing that friends are there for you can help you avoid unhealthy reactions to stressful situations.

Ways to actively seek out friendships

Some people benefit from large and diverse networks of friends, while others prefer a smaller circle of friends and acquaintances. You may have certain very close friends you rely on for deeply personal conversations, and more casual friendships for movies, a pickup game of basketball or backyard cookouts.
But many adults, especially men, find it hard to develop new friendships or keep up existing friendships. For one thing, time may be short, and friendships may take a back seat to your other priorities, such as long days on the job, tiling the kitchen floor or caring for aging parents. Or maybe you've moved to a new community and haven't yet found a way to meet people.
Developing friendships does take some work. But because friendships are so important to your overall sense of well-being, it's worth the time and effort.
Here are some ways you can develop new friendships:
  • Get out with your pet. Seek out a popular dog park, make conversation with those who stop to talk on your daily neighborhood jaunts, or make pet play dates.
  • Work out. Join a class through a local gym, senior center or community fitness facility. Or start a lunchtime walking group at work.
  • Do lunch. Invite an acquaintance to join you for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Accept invites. When someone invites you to a party, dinner or social gathering, say yes. Resist the urge to say no just because you may not know everyone there or you may initially feel awkward. You can always leave if you get too uncomfortable.
  • Volunteer. Hospitals, places of worship, museums, community centers and other organizations often need volunteers. You can form strong connections when you work with people who share a mutual interest.
  • Join a cause. Get together with a group of people working toward a goal you believe in, such as an election or the cleanup of a natural area.
  • Join a hobby group. Find a nearby group with similar interests in such things as auto racing, music, gardening, books or crafts.
  • Go back to school. Take a college or community education course to meet people with similar interests.
  • Hang out on your porch. Front porches used to be social centers for the neighborhood. If you don't have a front porch, you can still sit out front with a cup of coffee or a good book. Making yourself visible shows that you are friendly and open.
You may not become instant friends the first time you meet someone. But the seeds of lasting friendships can be sown with a friendly wave as you're mowing the lawn or bringing in the newspaper.

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