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The stress-beating power of friendship

When you hear the word "pampering," what comes to mind? An expensive massage? A facial? How about chatting with a dear friend over a steaming cup of tea? In fact, having a heart-to-heart with another person is a great way to put stress to rest. Studies suggest that people with friends even have an edge when it comes to living longer.

What—s behind the power of friendship? First, the very act of talking to a friend helps you vent feelings you might otherwise keep bottled up. Second, true friends offer a nonjudgmental ear. Third, they give you the confidence to tackle a tough problem. And, of course, a friend makes you feel valued.

If you—re feeling a bit lonely, follow these tips for building a support network:

  • Join a club. Find an activity you enjoy-and sign up! Try a book or theater club. Maybe a physical pursuit-hiking, say-is more your style.
  • Volunteer. Besides meeting other humanitarians, helping those less fortunate may remind you to count your blessings.
  • Say hello. Strike up a conversation with one of those familiar faces you bump into during your day-to-day routine. There may well be a reason why you travel in the same circles.
  • Find out whatever happened to your college roommate, your best friend from grammar school, the fellow who shared your office for 10 years. Sometimes a phone call to a long-lost friend is enough to make you feel good.