Having Close Friendships Can Actually Improve Your Health

Even though you may enjoy the friends that you have in your life, would you go so far as to say they’re good for your health? The truth is that friends can significantly impact your overall well-being. People that have a difficulty building and maintaining relationships may risk both mental and physical health issues, including depression.

For starters, here are some of the many benefits that friendship can provide to your health:

  • Increase your sense of purpose
  • Improve happiness
  • Relieve stress
  • Boost self-confidence
  • Provide support during trauma or crisis
  • Offer encouragement to change unhealthy habits

What to Do When It’s Difficult to Make Friends

While it may be all fine and good to say that friendships can improve your health, what are you supposed to do if you find it hard to make friends? Many times, life becomes busy, and friendships can take a backseat. You may have grown apart from some of your closest friends as you got married, had children, and moved to a different city.

For most people, it’s difficult to designate an exact number of friends for balanced health. Many people thrive in a large social network, while others do better with several close friends and relatives.

If you find it hard to make friends and are craving social interaction, consider these ways to meet new people:

  • Take your dog or child on a walk through the neighborhood.
  • Join a local gym or sign up for a fitness class.
  • Ask an acquaintance for coffee or lunch.
  • Accept any and every invitation to a social gathering.
  • Get involved in your local community by attending neighborhood events.
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How Do Children Make Friends?

If your child could be considered a loner and has a difficult time making friends at school, it helps to understand the natural process of how children make friends.

Share a Common Interest

One child will connect with another when they realize that they have something in common. Children can develop friendship easily when they are open with one another and express their interest in becoming friends.

We’ve all seen young children ask the innocent question before: Want to be my friend?

Say Hello

Most kids become comfortable in a friendship when they interact with the same children regularly. As one child greets another, the other child should remain open and respond with a friendly hello to reinforce their friendship.

If a child has a difficult time saying hello to new friends, this can be practiced with role-play at home to make them feel more comfortable.

Give a Compliment

When it comes to kids, flattery will get you everywhere. When one child gives another a sincere compliment, it immediately cements a new friendship and creates a common bond.

Teach your child the art of the compliment by doling out compliments regularly at home, like “Nice jacket!” or “Great job on your art project!”

Always Be Kind

Last but not least, children can keep a friendship going by acting in kindness toward each other. Small kindnesses make a friendship meaningful, like saving an extra seat at the lunch table or helping a friend with a difficult task.

Of course, kindness needs to be genuine in order to be well received by a friend. Teaching a child to lend a helping hand will go a long way to help them connect with others.

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What Are the Benefits of Volunteering?

If you’ve never volunteered before, you could be missing out on a truly rewarding experience. Although most people find it hard to devote their time to a cause in between obligations from work and family, volunteering can benefit your emotional well-being and your community at the same time.

If you’re looking for one good reason to volunteer, try these benefits on for size:

  1. Volunteering can help you to make new friends. Beyond organizing stacking chairs after a church service, volunteering at your local church or community center can expose you to new people. If you’re looking for a healthy, safe way to make friends, volunteering is it; when you volunteer, you will meet new people and become a part of your community.
  2. Volunteering will improve social skills. If you consider yourself to be shy and introverted, it may be difficult for you to meet new people. When you volunteer, you’ll be placed in a social environment, where you’ll be forced to interact with people with different backgrounds.
  3. Volunteering can ease depression. One great way to reduce the risk of depression is by devoting yourself to a cause that helps others. Volunteering will prevent isolation by keeping you in contact with people in your community, and it will also provide a purpose for your life as you work toward the greater good.
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Are You in Need of New Friends? Here’s Where to Begin

Anytime you go through a major change in life, you may need to make new friends. This could include a divorce, a move to a new city, or retirement, causing your life’s circumstances to change drastically and opening the door to new relationships.

Where to Meet New People

If you’re hoping to meet friends for the sole purpose of socialization, the task may seem impossible at best. Close friendships don’t happen immediately, but there are places that you can look to find potential friends to connect with in any season of your life:

  • Sign up for a class. Whether it’s a painting class at a local college or a relationship support group at your church, gathering with peers on church furniture may be exactly what you need to meet a new friend.
  • Invite a colleague for a drink. Although it may feel awkward to break the ice and ask a friend to join you for dinner or a drink, most colleagues will willingly accept the invitation. If you’re intimidated at the thought of reaching out to a new friend, start slowly by asking a coworker to join you for happy hour after work.
  • Volunteer. It’s easy to meet people with common interests as you work toward a greater cause. Volunteering will expose you to new people from all walks of life and can help to develop your social skills.
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Proven Tips to Keep from Getting Sick While You Travel

There’s nothing worse than coming down with a cold on the first day of vacation. Or perhaps you’re traveling for a business meeting and are feeling under the weather when you need to meet with an important client.

Yes, traveling through different time zones can place stress on your immune system. To keep yourself healthy and strong the next time you get away, consider these helpful tips:

  • Supplement with Echinacea. Echinacea is an herb that has been proven to boost the immune system. It’s best to take this natural remedy five days before a vacation or business trip and five days after you return.
  • Keep your socks on. While you’ll be required to remove your shoes to pass through airport security, keep your socks on to avoid picking up germs on your bare feet.
  • Sip on chamomile tea. One of the best ways to relieve stress on a business trip is by enjoying a cup of chamomile tea at night to ease tension and promote relaxation. Chamomile also works as a sedative to ensure that you will get a good night of rest.
  • Wash your hands regularly. Washing your hands throughout the day as you enter new environments will kill germs that are easy to pick up on doorknobs and in airport restrooms. Before taking your seat on a plane, take the extra precaution to wipe down armrests and the tray table with an antibacterial wipe prior to takeoff.
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How to Prevent Burnout on the Job

If you’re sick of sitting around on church chairs in meeting after meeting, wasting your day away at the office, this is a post you’ll want to read. Without a change of pace or scenery, it’s easy to get burnt out on the job.

Job burnout appears to be on the rise. As a result, it cuts down on work time productivity. And once stress sets in, it can start to affect your health for the worse, making it more important than ever to prevent burnout at the office by:

  1. Remembering to breathe. If you feel like your day has become a nightmare, take a moment to breathe deeply to calm down and finish the task at hand. A small five-minute break with breathing and meditation may be enough to recharge your batteries and relieve residual stress.
  2. Call a friend. Whether it’s your mother, your significant other, or your BFF, venting to someone you love will make it easier to handle stress at the office. If you have a highly stressful job with a difficult boss, designate a buddy that you can call in a pinch for backup and support.
  3. Socialize. Even though it may be tempting to close the door of your office and put your head on your desk in defeat, it can elevate your mood to connect with colleagues. But don’t waste your time talking about the latest work project. Take a quick break to chat with coworkers at the water cooler to strengthen emotional bonds and promote stress relief.
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Clever Ideas for Quick Party Hors D’oeuvres for an Impromptu Gathering

If colleagues suggest that everyone head to your house after work, will you be prepared? Beyond folding chairs to provide guests with enough seating room, food is of the utmost importance.

While it may feel overwhelming to accommodate multiple guests without a moment’s notice, you can throw together some delicious party appetizers with these suggestions:

  • Cheese h'ordeuvresCheese and a Baguette: If you keep premium cheese on hand, like Brie or Gouda, it will be easy to slice it up and place it on a serving platter with slices of crusty baguette. Voilà! A gourmet appetizer in minutes.
  • Bread Sticks: Another quick party favorite is thin bread sticks, also called grissini, served with a premade dip like pesto or roasted red bell pepper spread. These crunchy breadsticks can be placed on a serving platter for guests to munch on with tasty dip on the side.
  • Snack Mix: Instead of throwing a bag of trail mix on the table, surprise guests with gourmet-inspired Asian snack mix made from wasabi peas, sesame sticks, and rice crackers. This tangy mix is inexpensive and hard to resist!
  • Edamame: Keeping a frozen bag of edamame on hand at all times will make it easy to serve guests a nutritious, filling party treat. Simply pop the edamame in the microwave, allow it to steam, and serve in a bowl with coarse salt as a garnish.
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Parenting Tips to Deal with Separation Anxiety in Children

If you’re leaving your child for the first time with a babysitter or at daycare, the thought of separation anxiety can be daunting. We’ve all heard stories before of children that scream, cry, and throw tantrums as soon as their parents drop them off.

Is it possible to prevent this type of behavior, or is it considered normal? In most kids, some crying, clinginess, and fussing are a normal response to separation from a parent. You can use these helpful tips to ease normal expressions of separation anxiety in a young child to make your next drop-off a breeze:

  1. Practice separation early on. This can be easily done by leaving your young child with grandparents or a friend for several hours in an afternoon so that they get used to being away from you.
  2. Schedule care after a feeding or nap. A baby may be more likely to fuss and throw a tantrum when separated from a parent if they are tired or need a bottle.
  3. Bring familiar items. If your child is being dropped off at daycare for the first time, bring a toy or blanket with them to make them feel more comfortable.
  4. Stay consistent in childcare. Although it may be hard to find a good babysitter these days, sticking with the same childcare provider will make your child feel more comfortable the next time you leave them for an afternoon or a workday.
  5. Leave immediately. After communicating to your child that you are leaving and when you will return, give them a kiss and leave without hesitation. This will keep major tantrums to a minimum.
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What Is the Etiquette for Planning a Baby Shower?

If you think planning a baby shower seems simple at face value, it may be time to think again. Beyond gathering folding tables and chairs to accommodate all guests, there are several etiquette rules that you must heed to please your guests and the mom-to-be, starting with…

When Should You Hold the Shower?

The shower should be scheduled anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks before a baby is due. This will ensure that the shower can go off without a hitch, even if a baby is born early for unforeseen reasons.

In some cases, a mother may prefer to have her baby shower after the due date if she’s keeping the gender a surprise.

Who Decides the Guest List?

As the host, you’re responsible for paying for the baby shower in full. As a result, you do get some say-so to determine exactly how many guests you can pay for. Talk with the expectant mother to come up with a number that you can both agree on so that you don’t exceed your party budget.

How Many Guests Should Be Invited?

In most cases, a baby shower works best as an intimate gathering with family and friends. If the guest list is too extensive to include work colleagues and friends of friends, it may be more stressful than necessary to the expectant mama. As an estimate, 20 guests are recommended for a comfortable party.

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How to Choose the Healthiest Appetizers for a Cocktail Party

Can parties and health really go hand-in-hand? If you plan your party menu in advance, you can provide your guests with healthy options in favorite party hors d’oeuvres, like:

  • Hummus: Hummus is delicious and high in fiber. Bonus points if it’s served with vegetables! Hummus is a great dip to have on plastic folding tables at a party as an alternative to queso or creamy spinach dip.
  • Shrimp Cocktail: Shrimp are naturally delicious and also happen to be low in calories. Even better, you can eat shrimp without a high-calorie dip with just a squeeze of lemon and a side of cocktail sauce.
  • Smoked Salmon: Smoked salmon atop a whole-wheat cracker is simply divine and screams luxury at a cocktail party. Make sure to serve it with lemon juice and capers instead of fatty cream cheese.

Now that you know exactly what it takes to plan a healthy party menu, here are several appetizers to avoid that will only pack on the pounds:

  • Any food wrapped in bacon.
  • Any food stuffed with cheese.
  • Meatballs simmering in a savory sauce.
  • Mixed nuts.
  • Mini pastries, cookies, tarts, or quiches.
  • Pigs in a blanket or any item wrapped in a puff pastry.
  • Spinach-artichoke dip or any other cream-based or cheese dip.
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