How to Make Connections and Friendships in your Community
Friendships reduce feelings of loneliness
Making new friends is an exciting time, as you find out more about like-minded people and form connections that can last for life. However during times like these, it may seem a little more difficult. But it doesn’t have to be.
Being social and having friends can make a world of difference to your mental health, as regular interaction and connections with others is a key tool in combating loneliness.
According to VicHealth, “loneliness is commonly understood as an emotional response to the perceived mismatch between the amount of personal contact a person wants and the amount they have.” They also say that social loneliness in particular, is about someone’s feelings that they lack a social network, which can be made up of friends, neighbours, people in their wider community and even colleagues.
Keep in mind that there is no minimum or maximum number when it comes to making friends. It’s all about the quality of the connection you make and finding people that encourage feelings of happiness, self-worth and emotional satisfaction.
How to make friends
It’s natural to have concerns about putting yourself out there and taking the first steps towards building a brand new friendship. But the more you practice when you are out and about, the better and more confident you’ll get in social situations.
A key thing to remember is that it’s all about the way you interact with the people around you, whether that’s through talking or body language. When you are around your neighbourhood, instead of looking down at your phone or listening to headphones, interact with the people around you, waive hello, smile at them or even spark up some light conversation. This way, you not only boost your own sense of confidence but make the people around you feel more warm and welcome when they are around you.
Start off by aiming to interact with three people during the day when you are out. Keep it up everyday and you may be surprised how quickly you feel comfortable and can grow a lasting friendship.
Above all though, the absolute golden rule when making friends is to be yourself. Good quality friends will accept you for who you are and what you are about.Remember, you want to be making friends that make you happy, not friends that make you feel like you need to be somebody different.
Where to make friends
The good news is there are plenty of places to make friends, the sky’s the limit!
You may find some people you like at the dog park, while you are going for a walk, as you do your supermarket shopping or even while you wait for your morning coffee at your local cafe. And don’t forget to smile and interact with the staff at your local shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. While they might be serving you at the time, they are people as well and may be the perfect candidates for brand new friendships.
Also make use of the internet and social media, because there are plenty of ways to make friends online as well. Whether you download a friend matching app, join a new Facebook group, reach out to an acquaintance or colleague via social media or even revive an old friendship by sending someone a message, the internet is a great way to find and keep up connections with others.