You got a friend in me
We all need friends. From an early age and when we attend pre-school or kindergarten the natural inclination is to gravitate to other children with similar likes.
The human condition is geared around being with other people and not being isolated. However, new research has found that almost half of Australia’s male population is experiencing loneliness.
According to a national survey conducted by Healthy Male, 43% of Australian men are lonely, with high levels of loneliness reported by more than one in six men (16%) overall. One in four (24%) men aged 35-49 reported feeling a high level of loneliness, in men aged 50-64 years it’s 12.1%, and 6% of men aged 65 and over admitting to feeling loneliness.
Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being. Adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). In fact, studies have found that older adults who have meaningful relationships and social support are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
But developing and maintaining good friendships takes effort. And like most things in life quality counts more than quantity. While it may be good to cultivate a diverse network of friends, you may feel a greater sense of belonging and well-being by nurturing close, meaningful relationships that will support you through the good times and the not so good times.
Sunday July 30 is International Day of Friendship and is a timely reminder that if you are struggling, there are things you can do to find new friends.
Look for groups or clubs that gather around an interest or similar hobby. You may find these groups online, or they may be listed in the newspaper or on community bulletin boards. There are also many websites that help you connect with new friends in your neighbourhood or city.
Offer your time or talents at a hospital, parish, museum, community centre, charitable group or other organisation. You can form strong connections when you work with people who have mutual interests.
Invite a friend to join you for coffee or lunch. When you’re invited to a social gathering, say yes. Contact someone who recently invited you to an activity and return the favour.
Take a university or community education course to meet people who have similar interests. Join a class at a local gym, senior centre or community fitness facility.
Grab your children or pet and head into the great outdoors. Chat with neighbours who are also out and about or head to a local park and strike up conversations with strangers.
Above all, stay positive.
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