making-friends-for-brain-healthDid you know that social interaction closely links with a healthier brain? A key component of the six pillars of brain health, socializing with friends and family, provides an outlet for stress and gives comfort and support through difficult times. People who experience enhanced intellectual stimulation or are more social may experience slower memory decline.

Spend Time with Others

“Researchers have found that having even one close friend that you confide in can extend your life by as much as 10 years,” says sociologist Jan Yager, Ph.D. A Harvard School of Public Health study found evidence that older Americans that volunteered frequently, were married or had a long-term relationship and socialized frequently with children and neighbors had delayed memory loss.

While research shows having friends helps your mood and memory, why does it? Some researchers think diminishing stress, positive peer pressure and emotional support play a big part. Together, friends encourage healthier life habits like eating better or working out.

How to be More Social

Even if you’re not an extrovert, making friends comes down to you making the first move.

  • Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know well, or have never met, and ask them about their job, family, and hobbies.
  • If they reciprocate an interest in chatting and getting to know you, see what your common interests are. Do they enjoy yoga like you? Find a common ground and ask if they’d like to join you in the yoga class you attend. Even asking if they’d like to meet for coffee soon makes it known that you’d like to talk again.
  • Start new hobbies or sports to meet new people.
  • When talking to someone, listen carefully and show genuine interest in learning about them.

Everyday life, work and responsibilities get in the way easily when you’re trying to maintain a friendship. In today’s world, simply show your appreciation by sending a text or leaving a voicemail to let your friend know you’re thinking about them. You may also want to go the extra step by sending them a handwritten card in the mail. Make sure that even when you don’t have time to talk or hang out together, that you cherish your bond with them.

This Fourth of July holiday, plan a BBQ, attend a parade, and invite someone new to a fireworks display. You’ll have fun and at the same time do good things for your brain.

Already active in the community with volunteering? Feel like you have several good friends? You can learn more tips and see how your lifestyle contributes to brain health by taking our free brain health check-up test.