Evidence shows that good relationships - with family, friends and your community - are very important for your mental health. It is always worth putting effort into maintaining your friendships or making new friends. Friends form one of the foundations of our ability to cope with the problems that life throws at us.

Studies show that healthy relationships can make life more enjoyable, help us handle grief, and provide camaraderie to help us reach personal goals, among many other things. Just sharing things with trusted friends and family will go a long way to boosting willpower – they can keep us grounded and help us get things in perspective at times when we are struggling to do so ourselves. Things can become easier when we have someone physically present, listening, offering encouragement or even just providing some practical help along the way.

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Some tips for staying in touch

  • Take the first step. It’s all too easy to put off a “catch up” with friends or family. Re-ignite relationships with friends and family by taking the first step. They might be feeling the same way as you, and someone has to make the first move, so let it be you. Dedicate some time every day or every week to connect with your family, friends and colleagues.

  • Arrange a day out with friends you may not have connected with recently. Despite many people connecting everyday on social media, there is nothing quite like meeting up in person. It can help to suggest a few dates and plan a get-together.

  • Exercise with others. It may be increasingly difficult to carve out time for socialising, but if you combine it with your regular exercise regime, you may find that you can get the benefits of exercising and catching up at the same time.

  • Reduce your screen time when you are in company. Put the phone away, close your laptop, turn off the TV and have a chat.

  • Join with others. You may feel isolated and lonely if you live alone or your friends and family are not close by. Take any opportunities to make new connections and get to know the people who live near to you, by joining local clubs, attending events or just sending a friendly Christmas card.

If you have no family or friends living nearby or you have lost touch over the years, this can sometimes be a source of distress and loneliness. Don’t be afraid to get in touch, even if it’s been a long time. Pick up the phone, send a text, write a letter or email them. The good news is that others benefit from your call too!