A new job, a new home, a new community, a new partnership, a new life stage. These milestones and times of transition usually come with many feelings ranging from excitement for what’s ahead to concern about missing the relationships and routines of the past. Here are some tips on how to cultivate friendships during times of transition in order to have a positive and meaningful experience for better wellbeing.

Feel Free to Feel

It’s important to acknowledge the feelings that are occurring. Name them out loud or write them down somewhere. Tell someone “I’m nervous about X” or “I’m optimistic about Y.” Naming feelings, particularly ones like sadness, anger and pain, can reduce the intensity of these feelings, according to researchers at University of California – Los Angeles. For some, being overwhelmed may make this a difficult undertaking because it’s hard to process how you feel. This is where mindfulness exercises can help connect and build awareness without having that knee-jerk, full-body reaction.

Seek Out Someone to Share Experiences With

While times of transitions can sometimes feel lonely because they are deeply personal, know that you are not alone. Others have done the same and there will always be someone else who is currently going through similar changes in their lives. According to an article in Psychology Today, finding friends that are going through similar experiences can be very beneficial to having mutual empathy and a figurative hand to hold to help navigate the new environment. This is where social media can be especially helpful – even if someone is going through a similar experience across the country, the connections can still be made. Locally, there may be dedicated groups that host “meet ups” and other events that foster relationship building. These groups may meet regularly so that the bonds can really strengthen. 

For those that are considering moving to a senior living community, make sure to find one that has a reputation of supporting people in cultivating new friendships, like Brookdale. Brookdale is known for its “Resident Engagement” program which empowers its community members. The staff gets to know each person individually to help tailor experiences, rather than just handing them an activity calendar and wishing them the best. 

Like Yourself and Assume Other Do, Too

Most of us can remember Sally Field’s famous Oscar speech: “you like me, right now you really like me!”. But when we start new friendships, it’s common to experience a “liking gap” which is where people in various social situations systematically underestimate how much their conversation partners like them and enjoy their company, according to research published in Psychological Science. Whether it’s because people are afraid of being too vain or they are too self-critical (or both), assume that if you’re having a good conversation with someone, then they like you! Practice this and the insecure feelings will likely dimmish as you get to know someone better over time.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, a genuine connection with others is a key component to feeling your best. Know that you can make friends at any age, particularly at places like Brookdale which says “Our goal is to help you embrace a life rich in meaning and connection.”