We love our friends, or they wouldn’t be a part of our lives. But did you realize they play a far-reaching role in our mental health?
We are social animals from the time we are born. I’m sure you’ve seen a toddler gravitate to other little ones at the playground. Interacting with others is instinctual.
Yet, it can be harder, as we age, to stay connected to our friends.
Some of us move many miles away; divorces interfere with friendships — yes, life happens.
It certainly is easier if you have a regular weekly group with whom you play tennis, or perhaps, a volunteer meeting to plan an upcoming event. An activity, such as bridge, as an 84-year-old friend does, fills the bill nicely.
Engaging in a sport regularly, as I do with pickleball, serves the purpose, as well. Yet, even with pickleball, we must make an effort to reach out to one another to set up “playdates.”
Staying connected to our friends is the secret sauce to a brain that is vital and engaged.
Our pickleball group takes the time to check-in, keeping abreast of the relevant issues in our lives — giving us a double dose of feel-good vibes. Also, these dates ensure our friendship, spirit, and grand times continue.
It is imperative for our emotional and mental health.
Some of my deepest and most heartfelt conversations take place on the phone with a dear friend. We live a two-hour plane ride away, so the telephone is our primary means of communication. Our talks keep us up-to-date on each other’s lives, from the mundane to the inevitable upsets and joys of living.
We also inspire one another by reviewing our current interests, from volunteering to our exercise routines to politics. We also discuss the latest books or movies we’re enjoying.
These conversations add to a feeling of connection — giving us a boost of dopamine, aiding in brain and body functioning.