A HOW-TO GUIDE TO REACH­ING OUT

It’s im­por­tant for adults to nur­ture new friend­ships, so­cial con­nec­tions

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - RELIGION - LINDA BLAIR

De­spite the myr­iad ways we have of “reach­ing out,” many of us of­ten feel un­sup­ported and alone. In a re­cent sur­vey for Bri­tain’s Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics, five per cent of U.K. adults re­ported feel­ing lonely “of­ten or al­ways;” 16 per cent said they were lonely “some of the time.”

Re­late and Re­la­tion­ships Scot­land re­ported even higher lev­els in a 2017 sur­vey: 45 per cent said they felt lonely some of the time, while 18 per cent were lonely all the time.

Sup­port­ing data sug­gests younger adults (16-24 years), in­di­vid­u­als who live alone, those who have long-term phys­i­cal or men­tal health prob­lems, and those who feel no sense of con­nec­tion with oth­ers in their neigh­bour­hood, are vul­ner­a­ble to such feel­ings.

Sat­is­fy­ing re­la­tion­ships are more im­por­tant than ever. Not only do they min­i­mize our sense of iso­la­tion, they’re also ben­e­fi­cial to both phys­i­cal and men­tal health.

Pa­tri­cia Resick at Duke Univer­sity re­viewed stud­ies fo­cus­ing on in­di­vid­u­als fac­ing new and/or dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. She found a sig­nif­i­cant re­la­tion­ship between good so­cial sup­port and bet­ter men­tal and phys­i­cal health across a range of pop­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing stu­dents, the un­em­ployed, new moth­ers, those re­cently wid­owed, and par­ents who have chil­dren suf­fer­ing from se­ri­ous med­i­cal con­di­tions. Wil­liam Chopik at Michi­gan State Univer­sity ex­am­ined the re­sults of a sur­vey of 271,053 adults world­wide, and found in­di­vid­u­als of all ages who pri­or­i­tized and val­ued their friend­ships felt in bet­ter phys­i­cal and men­tal health.

Robert Sapol­sky at Stan­ford Univer­sity goes fur­ther. He claims a lack of so­cial sup­port is as bad for phys­i­cal health as obe­sity, smok­ing and high blood pres­sure.

The im­por­tance of nur­tur­ing friend­ships can’t be over­stated. How­ever, ma­jor life events such as mov­ing house or job, los­ing a loved one or re­tir­ing, of­ten bring a loss of friends, and there­fore the need to cre­ate new bonds.

What are some good ways to make new friends in adult­hood?

Un­der­stand the role of tech­nol­ogy. So­cial me­dia is valu­able as a way of es­tab­lish­ing con­nec­tions with po­ten­tial friends.

How­ever, it doesn’t con­fer the same sense of be­long­ing as meet­ing up in per­son. Us­ing the in­ter­net as a safe start­ing point, meet with some­one you value — in a pub­lic space, if it’s some­one new — at least once a week.

When you meet some­one new, ask ques­tions and lis­ten care­fully. This will help you get to know them bet­ter and de­cide if the friend­ship has longer-term po­ten­tial. Fur­ther­more, you’ll be per­ceived as lik­able, be­cause gen­uine at­ten­tion is al­ways grate­fully re­ceived.

If you’ve en­joyed meet­ing some­one, let them know you val­ued your time with them.

Emails and texts are easy. In­stead, send a hand­writ­ten mes­sage ex­press­ing your ap­pre­ci­a­tion. You could also use it as an op­por­tu­nity to sug­gest an­other time to meet.

If you’ve en­joyed meet­ing some­one, let them know you val­ued your time with them.

GETTY IM­AGES/IS­TOCK­PHOTO

Emails and texts are easy ways to keep in touch with new friends, but a hand­writ­ten mes­sage ex­press­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion will take that friend­ship to a higher level.

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