Sure we all want alone time, “me” time, but good friendships are invaluable to a healthy life. Women especially may feel their friend relationships are important to their well-being, and science might now be proving them right. According to a UCLA study on women and friendship, when women are stressed, they experience a surge of oxytocin, the "bonding" hormone. It's the same hormone secreted when we are connecting with our babies. This hormone encourages us to "tend and befriend," which produces more oxytocin, a cycle that ultimately has a calming effect. Interestingly the effect does not occur in men, who are more likely to have a hormonal "fight or flight" response to stress.
Another study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends a woman had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to lead a joyful life. Not having close friends or confidants has been found to be a significant health hazard, up there with smoking or being overweight.
So now that we have established the value of good friends, how does one go about finding them? Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city and need to set up new relationships. There are literally billions of potential friends in the world. What's more, many of these people want to make friends just as much as you do. So just follow these steps to meet new people and form strong, lasting friendships.
Get out and meet people! If you want to make friends, you first need to meet people. No matter where you live, this should be fairly easy. Just in case you're stumped, here are just a few suggestions.
If you're in school or work and have a lot of co-workers and peers, you're surrounded by potential friends for a large portion of your day. A way to make a friend is to not be shy; go up to that person ask questions, like "what is your name?" "Are you on a team?" Act friendly and be honest and trustworthy.
Join a club with people of common interests. You don't necessarily have to have a lot of common interests with people in order to make friends with them--in fact, some of the most rewarding friendships are between two people who don't have much in common at all--but if you have something in common with people, it can make it a lot easier to talk to them and plan activities initially. Whatever your age and whatever your interests, there is a club or organization for you.
Join a team. Especially if you're in school, joining a sports team can be great way to make friends. A common misconception about this is that you have to be really good at playing a particular sport in order to make friends with others on the team. As long as you enjoy the sport or other activities, try your best, and acknowledge that you're not a pro, your teammates will usually be more than happy to accept you for who you are.
Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way for people of all ages to meet others. By working together you build bonds with people, you could maybe even join girl scouts, or cub scouts because you'll be doing charity work and also making friends that way, the fact that you're devoting your time to something free of charge shows that you're compassionate and unselfish, two traits of good friends.
Get online. In general, the internet isn't a great place to make real friends, the kind who will be there for you when you really need them. Never use the internet to meet some one you now will consider your "best friend". You don't know this person and making them your best friend will not do anything good in your life. If you live in a really isolated place, the internet can also help you find other people around the world that share your interests.
Talk to people. You can join a club, go to school, or go to church, and you still won't make friends if you don't actually talk to people. By the same token, you don't have to be involved with an organization to talk to people, and any time you talk to someone, you have a chance at making a lasting friend. You can talk to anybody: the clerk at the video store, the person sitting next to you on the bus, or the person in front of you on the lunch line. Don't be picky. Most conversations will be a dead-end of sorts, in that you may never talk to that person again or you'll just remain acquaintances, but once in a while you'll actually make a friend.