With International Day of Friendship at the end of this month (July 30th), we thought we’d take a look at something many of us have challenges with—making friends as we get older.
Friendship Isn’t Just Fun—It’s Good For You
Friendship is so important and adds greatly to our overall well-being. Having meaningful friendships through adulthood is a predictor of our long-term health and can even positively impact our life expectancy. Yep, scientists believe quality friendships actually help us live longer.
Making friends in adulthood can be really challenging though, especially when modern life can be isolating. Whether you spend all day working from home, staring at a screen, or taking care of family, adult life just doesn’t always bring us into contact with a lot of new humans. And when we are lucky enough to meet new people, sometimes we fear the awkwardness or even rejection that can come from stepping out of our comfort zone and trying to be social.
In Order To Make Friends… Forget About Making Friends
To make the prospect of making new friends a little easier, one suggestion is to take the emphasis off making new friends and focus on doing activities you might learn from or simply enjoy. Whether you make new friends or not, these activities are still so worthwhile. And somewhat ironically, people who have their own interests, are curious about new things, and know how to enjoy themselves can be really appealing to make friends with. So with all that in mind, here’s some suggestions that might result in some rewarding new connections:
- Join a small local gym, yoga studio, or dance class. In a more intimate setting it will be easier to start to get to know the staff and other regulars. Large gyms or studios can be intimidating and make it hard to socialize.
- Take a class or attend a workshop about something that you’re passionate about or just want to learn more about. There are so many options in our communities for learning about a variety of different topics, including gardening and farming, computer coding, arts and crafts like drawing or pottery, entrepreneurial skills and business – even how to build and fix things around the house. Or go ahead and learn a language – it’s really great for your brain even if it doesn’t come easily. There’s something out there for all interests, budgets and schedules.
- See if there is a local Social Media group of your profession. There are so many of these out there, with Facebook and LinkedIn being two of the more common places to check out. These groups are free and make it really easy to network and find others in your field. You can share and receive tips and other information, or even build business references and collaboration opportunities. Many groups already have in-person networking meetups, and if they don’t, you can either start one yourself or invite people out for coffee or lunch.
- Look for an acquaintance on Social Media who frequently post pictures of food. They may be the perfect lunch or dinner companion. And trying a new cuisine or going on an expedition to find less well-known places can easily be its own reward. Case study: a friend saw an article on the best hot dog places all over the city, and decided he’d have a hot dog once a week with someone new. It wasn’t the healthiest option perhaps, but each week he’d post the results on Facebook and it became a fun thing to keep track off – which in turn generated new people for him to meet up with.
- Find volunteer opportunities in your community. There are some really unique volunteer options in museums, sporting events, festivals, animal shelters, camps, and parks – and the list goes on and on. The key is to find something that interests you, and make an effort to get to know the other volunteers and staff.
- Join a Meetup group. As you probably already know, Meetup is a great website and app that allows people to attend – and create – all kinds of events and gatherings. There are regular meetups and less frequent events ranging from hiking trips to free yoga in the park, book discussion clubs and so many more! Almost any interest you can think of has a group on there.
- Join a local athletic or hobby league. There are numerous ongoing kickball, soccer, frisbee, volleyball, chess, card, and board game leagues going on year-round in the South Denver area. If this seems intimidating at all, just remember that in addition to options for more experienced players, there’s plenty of leagues for beginners and people who just want to have fun and socialize. Here’s links to some South Denver leagues and leagues in Parker to get you started. Note the arrival of Pickeball—who knew?
We hope you make some meaningful new connections. Let us know what works for you, and if you wind up making a new friend or two!
Sarah Lustig, MAAT, ATR, LPC – Psychotherapist/Art Therapist For All Ages
PS—Be sure to watch our Facebook page soon for a special July giveaway to celebrate International Friendship Day!
PPS—If you’re interested in integrative mental health and wellness, you might want to read our newly launched monthly newsletter. You can read the first edition here, and you can sign up for future issues here!
Sarah Lustig, MAAT, ATR, LPC brings a highly integrative approach to art therapy, incorporating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Family Based Treatment (FBT) in her practice. In addition to Sarah’s warm, compassionate work with adults and families, she has unique experience working with children and adolescents with eating disorders, anxiety, and various other mental health challenges. She’s has also helped at-risk high school students and women who’ve been homeless or incarcerated due to mental illness.
Have any questions about Sarah’s art therapy and counseling practice? Call our front desk at (720)222-0550 to learn more or schedule your first appointment with her.