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The facts about friendships and why they matter


The facts about friendships and why they matter

Finding a likeminded group to socialise with is more than just an enjoyable experience, JUDY RAFFERTY explains the extra health benefits.

Holidays such as Easter and Christmas are loaded with expectation: family, celebration, friends, festive meals. Yet perhaps it is unlikely that each and every year we will be surrounded by family and friends with whom to share these special annual events. Sometimes being alone on these holidays amplifies our feelings of loneliness and even of isolation.

As we age the meeting of new people can become more difficult. The easy avenues of incidental meetings, though our children or through our work, diminish. We lose friends through illness, relocations and even death. On the other hand, many times people have told me that after retirement they have managed to make friends more easily. They have found that their peers seem more open and interested in having contact. Perhaps people have more time and availability.

Having friends is an important factor in maintaining good health. Friends create a sense of belonging and the need to belong is a basic human condition. Without it we suffer from loneliness, increased stress, lowered mood, and reduced wellbeing. Connection to others reduces the risk of dementia. It can reduce the risk of disease and improve recovery speed. Having friends improves immune function and increases longevity.  It improves our sense of self-worth so that, if we do live for longer, we can enjoy our longer life more.

Does your friendship list need

Do you need a top up? What might you do to actively find and create friendships?

Please don’t wait in hope for someone to find you and show interest in you. Reach out to other people.

Stay open to getting to know people. Friendships take time to develop. Perhaps risk your pride a little and take a chance by asking another person if they would like to catch up over coffee. If you are invited to something, say yes! Join a club or a group. Being open to new people and new experiences is a way of staying young at heart.

 Judy Rafferty  is the author of Retirement Your Way, A Practical Guide to Knowing What You Want and How to Get It, at all good bookshops and online.

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