How Friends Help Us Cope

How close relationships reduce stress and keep you fit.

Having friends may well keep you healthier and help you deal with stress better. Some studies show that people with close friends have a greater ability to fight disease than people who are introverted.

• Make friendship a priority.
Find the time to be with friends even if it means letting the room not to be dusted or the dishes unwashed for a while. When you can’t get together, use the phone to keep in touch.

• Open up to close friends.
Maintaining a deep friendship requires a level of “psychological intimacy.” Don’t be afraid to express your inner fears and disappointments. Listen to your friends when they have problems, but offer advice only when it’s wanted.

• Have different friends for different activities.
Try to be friends with people of your same interest or daily life work, such as going to the movies, hanging out at favorite cafe, and participating in social clubs and games.

• Don’t wait for a friend to ask a favor.
When a friend has the flu, offer to go to the store or drive the children to their after-school activities.

• Never take a friendship for granted.
Like a good marriage, friendship needs nurturing and patience. Become a joiner. Find a group that matches your interests. You might look with in your own age group or similar interests or beliefs. You can also start a group, such as a discussion group on movies or books.

• Talk to strangers (using discretion and common sense, of course).
Conversations started in museums, social clubs, or bookstores can lead to firm friendships.

• Enroll in an adult-education course.
A classroom is an ideal place to meet others with similar interests.

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