When someone is experiencing isolation, they often feel like their problems are entirely unique. The irony is that there’s a silent majority of people out there who are going through the exact same thing. According to a Harris Poll survey, over 72% of Americans experience loneliness. Multiple studies have shown that more socially active people tend to be healthier because loneliness triggers a stress hormone called cortisol that can lead to cardiovascular disease and numerous other illnesses. Developing a social life can be difficult if you’re busy with work, but it’s anything but impossible. To help combat the widespread issue of loneliness, we’ve written a guide on how to venture out of your comfort zone and make new friends.
In any town or city, it’s easy to find a group of people to exercise with. Though you can easily reach out to people at your yoga or pilates class, activities with clear goals like running a marathon or hiking are ideal for making new friends. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society gives you the option to join a team that will train, fundraise and run together, and they're just one example of many. Studies have shown that exercise can lead to the release of endorphins and improve someone’s overall esteem. Since people who exercise are generally in better moods, they're also more likely to be friendly and excited for the opportunity to meet new people.
Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 spend an estimated 40.3 hours a week at work. Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you have to shut down and become a lifeless robot. In fact, people who have work friends are more productive. Finding people you’re compatible with at work isn’t difficult, if you look for the right signs. If you’re at the same company, chances are you already have similar interests and aspirations. The tricky part is turning those casual lunch acquaintances into actual friends. During one of your lunch or coffee breaks, casually bring up the prospect of going out on a Saturday night or finally watching that horror movie you two have been exchanging Slack messages about. If they respond enthusiastically, you will be able to build off your mutual interests and establish a social relationship outside of work.
Even if your paintings or sculptures are unintentionally avant-garde at best, art classes are a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety. A study creative arts study out of Drexel University found that 45 minutes of creative activity daily significantly reduces stress in the body, regardless of artistic aptitude or skill level. Our lives are filled with nonstop chaos, and the act of focusing on a single activity can be fantastic for our psyches. These classes also serve as great opportunities to build new friendships in a quirky and creative environment. Especially if it’s a beginners course, people will be relaxed and not be taking everything too seriously. People who have gone out of their way to take an art class also probably will be more open to meeting new friends. If you strike up a conversation with another student, see if you have any other mutual goals, hobbies or interests. New friendship is sometimes only a few short questions away.
And if "art" isn't really your thing, there are plenty of other creative classes out there, too. Ever thought of cooking?
During periods of isolation, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when your life was vibrant and filled with friends. With social media, you can access that entire network of people you once shared bonds with in college or high school. Send a simple and welcoming message to someone who lives in the same city as you but haven’t heard from in years. You never know if they are also going through a similar experience. Not only will you already have a lot in common, you will have a lot to catch up about.
In the 2008 movie Yes Man, Jim Carrey’s character, Carl, agrees to say yes to everything after attending a motivational lecture. Though the film definitely takes this concept to extremes, it makes a compelling argument for being open minded. Making new friends is undoubtedly difficult, but it also requires you to come out of your shell and take risks. If someone invites you to see a movie you may not be that interested in or to a concert for a band you’ve never even heard of, just say yes. Everyone has their own social network and even if you don’t vibe with that one person, there’s always a chance of finding someone new and interesting. The point is: Opportunity is everywhere you look. All you have to do is seek them out.
Making new friends is a key step to finding overall happiness. If you’re looking for more lifestyle or health tips, please check our blog.