Resolutions to keep friendships warm

5 tips to keep friendships strong – even when life is hectic.

Let’s hear it for friends – whether short term acquaintances or life-long companions, they make life much more abundant. They’re even good for your health. Studies have found that strong social networks can improve your immune system and even your cardiovascular health, as well as help with depression and anxiety. Here are five resolutions you can make to keep friendships strong.

Share experiences
Some of the firmest friendships are founded on shared experience. And yet in the bustle of daily life getting together with friends can sometimes fall off the calendar. Ways to ensure that you get together regularly include:

• Make a standing date: having coffee or lunch once a month, every month, means not having to come up with an occasion to get together
• Sign up together: take a class together- learn a new language, dabble in art, or meet at the gym for Pilates
• Create special holidays and rituals: go away for a weekend to camp or take in some museums, or hold an annual celebration.
• Invite a friend along to events that your spouse or partner can’t make rather than going alone.

Pay attention
One of the building blocks in friendships is that sense of caring and connection that we get when others understand and know us. So keep your ears open and try not to miss milestone events, or difficult times. This year resolve to put your calendar to good use and send a card or make a phone call on your friends’ birthdays. Drop off some baking or flowers during difficult times. And if this is the year a friend retires, or reaches a milestone anniversary, make a fuss!

Bring out the best
A genuine compliment can be one of the best gifts you can give to any friend. If there’s something you admire about someone or a particular way they handled a situation – say so.

Another way to compliment a friend: refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Sometimes jumping in with a solution or how you would handle a particular problem can leave the other person feeling as though you think they aren’t able to handle it.

Reach out spontaneously
If something reminds you of a friend, reach out right then as if that person were there. If a particular song comes up on the radio, email the lyrics. Or if you find the perfect gardening tip or recipe, write it out on a card and drop it off. Keeping a list of friends’ phone numbers by the phone or recorded in your speed dial phone book, and email addresses in your email address book can help you keep in touch.

One caveat: before you start to forward internet jokes and links, be sure that your friend really wants them – and label them in the subject line. Some people feel overwhelmed by too much email and will start to ignore your address if they are receive too many forwarded emails and not enough personal ones from you.