count, it is friends who can affect howlong we live.
Nancy Hurst, a registered
psychologist in Edmonton,
encourages adults who are
depressed, grieving or anxious to
reach out to their social networks.
She says most people feel happier
when they have friends they can
talk to about their lives. And when
you’re happier, you’re healthier, she
says, because feeling supported
strengthens the immune system.
“When you are feeling connected,
you enjoy life.”
It’s our friends who benefit our
health the most. Caring friends not
only help us cope better emotionally,
but evidence shows these strong
bonds help us manage anxiety or
grief by lowering our blood pressure
and heart rate and decreasing the
stress hormone cortisol.
In her book Friendfluence, Carlin
Flora says friends who know us well
can also improve our physical health
by encouraging us to break bad habits
or adopt healthy choices. Friends
increase our sense of belonging and
purpose, improve our self-worth
and boost our happiness. They even
relieve loneliness more than siblings
Over time, as family and friendsmove or drift or pass away, oursocial circle becomes smaller. It canshrink further if you become singleor are no longer working. People canfind they have to work at makingnew friends.
Janet Halberg, who moved several
times because of her husband’s job,
learned how to meet people and
make friends. “It’s not easy putting
yourself out there, but you have to
remember that you’re not the only
As a gardener and self-described
dog person, Halberg always found a
local gardening group or dog club to
join. She also volunteered for various
groups and made a point of meeting
her neighbours. After her divorce at
55, Halberg joined a gym, took up
golf and began playing bridge with
colleagues from work.
Beyond personal interests, yourcommunity centre, local library, placeof worship or favourite charity areother places to meet people. There isno prescribed quota on friends. Someprefer one or two close friends toconfide in, while others enjoy morecasual connections with a diversegroup of friends.
Making friends later in life mayseem daunting, but those newfriendships could be a source ofhealth and happiness for decades tocome.
— Dawna Freeman
Connecting with family, friends and people in the community helps to
protect against feelings of loneliness and isolation. Healthy, and happy,
relationships are built on the foundation of trust, respect and mutual
care and are able to change with time. Spend quality time together and
talk through life issues to build stronger relationships.
If you’re struggling with loneliness or depression, don’t be afraid to ask
your doctor or therapist for help. Even talking through a problem with
a close friend can help to boost your spirits. If you’re concerned about
Healthy relationships help us feel connected
someone else’s loneliness, talking with them about it, spending time
together and checking on them while respecting their space are helpful
For confidential, anonymous help for loneliness or depression,call the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.