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Friendship Month: Why Friends are so Important (All the Time)
Where Friendship Grows
Friendships sprout in the most unlikely of places, am I right?
The postman, the bus driver, physio, the older person who walks the dog at the same time as you.
Friendships are not replicating ourselves, but exploring differences in others that mutually enrich our lives, which can be inclusive, diverse and supportive.
National Friendship Month
It’s national friendship month with Oddfellows, the friendly society. A time to reach out and rediscover such friendships.
The pandemic has effected people’s mental health from lack of connection. We have also seen the local community extending the hand of friendship in ways we would not have expected – and now deeply cherish.
Boosting your Mental Health
Most have the luxury of being able to call a friend when sad, deliberate over a problem, or celebrate success, but not all. MentalHealthFirstAidUS say, “It can be hard to talk to family members about mental health. That’s why it’s important to have healthy friendships to turn to in times of need. Our friends can be that ear to talk to, shoulder to lean on and nonjudgmental perspective that we need. They can also help increase our sense of belonging, improve our self-confidence and help reduce stress and anxiety.”
Friendship helps us with our overall health. It’s that good friend who can tell us we need more sleep or exercise, and notice when we are alone and need company. The Mayoclinic highlights the benefits including, a reduction in depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI), and that “studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.”
So how do we encourage friendships for our clients?
Tip 1: ‘Buddy’ with another provider and offer a video message or pen pal scheme to residents.
Tip 2: Encourage conversations with other service users, begin with a session where people discover 5 facts about each other. Make it fun!
Tip 3: Don’t just ask about family – what friendships do people miss – can you go the extra mile to reconnect people?
Tip 4: See who is interested in hobbies or work, bringing people together over shared interests whether they can actively participate or not.
Tip 5: Remember to protect people’s data and give them the support to safely flourish in new and existing friendships of all shapes and sizes.
Grow a Friend
This blog has helped me reach out to friends lost in time, and think of budding friendships…the most important thing is to act. Knock on that door, call or text and say hi! It’s never too late to grow friendships. It may be the friendship that person greatly needs.
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