by: Andrea Schramm, MA, LPC
As relationships go, friendships are different than other relationships we enter such as family and romantic partnerships, marriages, and people we work with, however coworkers and romantic partners can of course become friends, the structure is different. Friendships are relationships we choose to enter with another person that can often be fluid in their expression. Friendships often have less structure than more formal relationships such as marriages, romantic partnerships, and coworkers. Friendships can come and go over time and they can also last a lifetime.
What makes friendships so unique and important to us? We can benefit from both being a friend and having friends. We can contribute to better health in ourselves and in others when we make and maintain friendships. Friends can help us feel good, motivate us, and console us. Friends can boost our confidence and give us a sense of purpose. Friends can encourage us to make changes as we also support and encourage our friends. Having healthy friendships can increase life expectancy by lowering blood pressure and encouraging healthy habits. Friends can laugh with us and cry with us over time.
How can we make friends? Forming friendships peeks in the adolescent years, but this doesn’t mean we can’t make friends at other stages in our lives. It can be more difficult to make friends in adulthood. Here are some ways we can engage ourselves in friendship. Take up a new interest, join a club, volunteer in the community, become physically active in a sport, take a walk, or accept invitations from others. When we are open to friendship we benefit as do our new friends.
Once you have made a new friendship here are ways to maintain the friendship. Be kind, make yourself available to new friendships, be open to new friends and be a good listener in return.
Managing social anxiety is important for making new friends and can make friendships hard to seek out. Engaging in situations and activities that result in opportunities to make new friends can be helpful. Engage in mindfulness to assist in developing a positive approach to making friends. Manage thoughts of fearful social interactions by redirecting your thoughts to positive possibilities and away from fearful ones. Think of friendships as a benefit to your overall wellbeing.
Be yourself. Friends can come and friends can also go, your best friend is always yourself 😊
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!