I’m an introvert, which means I typically gain more energy and am able to recharge spending time by myself. That being said, while I do enjoy my alone time, I also enjoy spending time with family, friends, and meeting new people. This isn’t surprising because as a society, we have always (and still do) thrive on connecting with others. Whether this be in-person, such as meeting a friend for dinner or a walk to interacting with strangers through social media platforms or even video games. Human connection is not only an innate part of life, it is also incredibility beneficial for our mental and emotional health.

One benefit of human connection, specifically forming friendships, is that it helps to combat social isolation and feelings of loneliness. Back in 2019, it was shown that around 61% of Americans reported feeling lonely, but this number only grew post the Covid-19 pandemic with all of the shutdowns and quarantining. While increased isolation can have harmful effects on mental health, friendships and connection can do the opposite.

Another benefit of forming friendship(s) is the ability to give emotional support. We, as human-beings, are most likely to go through at least one difficult or stressful event throughout our lifetime, whether this be losing a loved one, being let go from a job, chronic illness(es), or overall financial hardships. A good friend or friends will be there to provide the necessary emotional support, from providing reassurance to active listening to simply just being a welcome presence in a possibly very dark time. However, a good friend will also be there to celebrate happy moments, as well, such as promotions, engagements, graduations, and so on. Not all emotional support has to come in negative moments, but a solid friendship will exist for it all.

Aside from the benefits of decreased feelings of loneliness and giving emotional support, some other benefits include:

  • Giving a sense of belonging
  • Teaching us new things and new perspectives
  • Increasing confidence and self-esteem
  • Encouraging changes in unhealthy lifestyle habits

While we have gone over some of the benefits of them, you may now be wondering on how to do so. I don’t know about you, but making new friends as an adult is not as easy as when you are a kid. Not only that, but it is hard to maintain current friendships as an adult, as well. Between working one or even multiple jobs, going back to school, taking care of kids, pets or family members, and all while trying to take care of ourselves, maintaining friendships can already be difficult. Making new friends? This can seem near impossible at times. Luckily there are many different options on how to meet new people, especially in today’s culture and age of technology.

1. Meetup.com. This is a site that allows you to meet new people in your area all while trying new things or further pursuing things you already love to do. Groups fall under a variety of categories, including; career & business, travel & outdoor, music, dancing, movements & politics, and so on. There are groups for almost anything, but if you don’t see something that speaks to you, another option is to create your own group! I have been to a few Meetup groups myself, which has ultimately resulted in meeting some wonderful people, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and having an overall great time!

2. Bumble BFF. Another option is Bumble BFF. Many people may know Bumble for being a platform for dating, but it actually also has an option for finding new friends! Similar to dating applications (if used before), you upload pictures and information about yourself, set your distance and start swiping! Another good thing about Bumble BFF is that it is also free, unless you choose to upgrade to premium choice. While I have not personally used this, I do know people that have used it successfully to find friends.

3. Volunteering. This is not only a great way to give back to your community, but also a great way to meet new people that already have similar interests to yours. For example, if you love animals, you may want to consider volunteering at your local animal shelter. Other opportunities can include volunteering at a local library, museum(s), and state park, to name a few. For volunteer opportunities in Delaware and the surrounding states, check out the following sites:

https://www.volunteermatch.org/

https://volunteer.delaware.gov/volunteers

https://volunteer.uwde.org/need/index?s=1&need_init_id=2959

These are just some ideas on how to meet new people, but others include; social media platforms, community events, or taking up a new class (or two). This isn’t to say making friends is always easy, but forming new connections (and maintaining current ones) is ultimately not only beneficial for your overall health, but also an important part of life.

It should be noted that these are all benefits of healthy friendships and having a good friend in your life. It is important to take note of people in your life currently (or in the future) who may not do this and instead, essentially do the opposite (negatively impact your mental health, destroy your self-esteem, encourage “unhealthy” lifestyle habits, etc.). These are all indications of toxic friendships/friends and while this isn’t a topic we will explore further in this article; it may be good to re-evaluate if you believe you have someone like this in your life.

Staff Blogger: Mollie Clupper

Mollie Clupper works for MHA as a Communications and Support Specialist. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with loved ones.

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860

https://www.betterup.com/blog/why-is-friendship-important

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-importance-of-friendship-3024371