Wellbeing & Wellness
Here’s How To Take The Fright Out Of Befriending Your New Neighbours
Moving at any time can be a nervous experience. We’re here to show you that at least one aspect, meeting your neighbours, doesn’t have to be so scary.
Humans are communal creatures at the end of the day; since the beginning of time, we’ve banded together to survive and thrive. It’s not quite the primaeval era anymore, but that doesn’t mean we’re any better off alone! Befriending your neighbours comes with a wide swathe of benefits. Elyakim Kislev from PsychologyToday tells us of a recent study regarding neighbourly support: “The study found that those who had low contact with neighbours at the time of both samples, as well as those who experienced a reduction in contact with neighbours over the years, experienced downward trends in well-being, as indicated by feelings of sadness, nervousness, restlessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.” Also, not only can they boost your mood, they can keep you safe, your home safe while you’re away, and keep you company. It’s always a bonus to find someone who you can test your bakery skills on too!
SHOW OFF THAT SMILE
It’s moving day, you’re exhausted, your neighbours wave and say hi and you grunt back and continue on your way. They feel a little closed off from you, and their chances of approaching you again are halved. Now let’s try again: instead of ignoring them, you give them a little smile. It doesn’t have to be huge! Just a tiny little grin to say hello. Your neighbours are assured that you want to be friends, you’re not overextending yourself when you’re already tired from moving. All it takes sometimes is a little warmth.
This especially helps if you’re a little shy. Gradually warming up to someone with a friendly hello and a smile makes it easier to initiate conversations down the line. Think of a smile as an ice breaker. Introduce yourself with it when you can and you’ll find your neighbours feel more comfortable speaking to you as well. They’re people too, it helps to remember, and it’s like that old saying with spiders – they’re probably more nervous around you than you are around them!
GIVE THEM A COMPLIMENT
A compliment on something someone cares about goes a long way toward laying the foundation for a firm friendship. For example, if you notice your neighbour gardening, that may be their favourite hobby. You can inquire about it, ask questions, compliment their plants and flowers. If they have a pet, enthuse them about their pet! If they’re wearing a shirt that’s your favourite colour, let them know! For example: “Good morning! Wow, I love your shirt, it’s my favourite colour, where did you get it from?”
Don’t force your compliments, you don’t need to! Compliment them on something you both like. This fosters further communication and can help unveil a common ground.
FIND COMMON GROUND
Following on from our previous point, finding common ground is a fabulous way to encourage friendship with neighbours and further build on that after introducing yourself. If you both have children, you could ask them if they wanted to come to the park with you and your family. While the little ones are playing, you could sit together and enjoy a coffee and a chat as you look on. If you both have dogs, walk your dogs together! Both stay-at-home mums? Go for a walk together when the kids are at school. We’re sure you’ll both enjoy the company, and a friend is a priceless gift to give yourself.
HELP AND ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
Random acts of kindness are a beautiful thing. If you see your neighbour struggling to get all of their shopping in the house, for example, lend a hand if you’re able. If they’re looking lonely in their garden and you know they appreciate the company, offer to sit with them a while and chat. If a parent is struggling to assemble a surprise gift for their family before they get home from school, join in! We guarantee it’ll warm their heart and leave them feeling happy and grateful.
Similarly, if you’re in need of a hand, don’t be afraid to ask for one. You may be lost or confused in your new district. If your neighbours have been around a while, ask them for some tips or directions. You could even hang out together at one of their favourite venues, or go for a walk around town to get familiar.
FREQUENT POPULAR LOCAL VENUES
Locals always have their favourite spaces. If you’re having trouble getting talking to neighbours, you may find better luck at one such space. If you enjoy sports, investigate the gym or a local sports venue. If you’re an avid reader, plot up at the library. There are ample opportunities to get to know people in such populated areas.
You don’t even need to launch into immediate conversation. If you see a group sitting at a library and feel comfortable, ask if you can sit at their table. There you can gradually build up a conversation, or perhaps even comment on what someone is reading! Similarly, if someone seems lonesome or shy at the gym, offer to work out with them. They’d appreciate the company, and you could make a friend!
So you’ve made some new friends, now you’re ready to focus on your new home a little more. But how do you decorate a rental without stepping on your landlord’s toes? We show you how here.