How to Be a Better Friend

Strong friendships can lead to a healthier life. Here's how a little effort can go a long way

Credit: Flickr/obertomaidelys

Sharing a laugh with a friend will brighten your day – and theirs

Busy schedules sometimes make it hard to find time for friends, but putting in the effort has major benefits

After a hectic day at work, it’s easy to choose time on the couch over time with friends, but spending time with friends is vital to emotional and physical well-being.

Having friends has been linked to better coping skills, lower rates of mental illness, better memory and better outcomes after illness. It’s also connected to healthier habits, higher self-worth and lower levels of anxiety.

Six Habits to Help You Be a Better Friend

Spend time: Instead of picking up the TV remote, pick up the phone and connect with your friends.

Be positive: Your friends should always be able to offer a sympathetic ear, but be careful that you aren’t constantly finding things to complain about.

Listen: Make sure you balance telling your own stories with lots of listening and asking questions.

Show up: Offer support by being there for parties, meet-ups or important events, but be there for the rough times, too, like attending a family funeral. 

Notice the good things and forgive the little bad ones: Pay attention to your friends’ best qualities, and don’t focus on the tiny irritations. 

Laugh: When you’re with your friends, lighten up. Have a good laugh, safe in the knowledge that with each chuckle you are improving your health and theirs.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.