If you asked people to list the bare essentials of life, most would likely suggest food, water, and shelter. It wouldn’t be a stretch to add friendship to the necessities of survival, though, one study indicates loneliness can be as harmful to your health as 15 cigarettes a day.

Did you know that Sunday, August 2, is the International Day of Friendship? By instigating conversations, sending greeting cards, or hosting a simple get-together, you can make the most of this occasion and improve the friendships in your life.

Conversation Starters

The current health crisis is keeping us all much closer to home than we would like. As a result, we haven’t spent valuable face time with the people who mean the most to us. This can be hard on relations since 63 percent of us have experienced long-term friendships cooling off when somebody moves away.

In 2020, it’s possible to reconnect with friends from the comfort of our apartments. Don’t wait for the perfect excuse to reach out to friends via Zoom or Google Chat video conferencing. Having a bad hair day? You don’t even need to use video. Pick up the phone and put in some earphones as you change sheets or tidy up the kitchen. By making time for your friends, you’ll invite them to make time for you.

Old-Fashioned Handwriting

Can you believe that people purchase over seven billion greeting cards a year? While the convenience of emails, texts, and social media have turned traditional letters into a lost art, sending a handwritten card says you really care.

The best part is that you don’t even have to have a special occasion to drop a card in the mail for a friendly pick-me-up to a dear friend. Catch up on the latest news, share a funny memory, or include a gift card that shows you’re thinking about them. Don’t be surprised if you receive a card of your own in return.

Breaking Bread

We know that spending time with others is critical for our well being. According to Harvard, Dozens of studies have shown that people who have social support from family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.

Even though we’re socially distancing, you can invite a friend or two over for an intimate meal. In a poll of American adults, 62 percent indicated they have two to five acquaintances they consider to be close friends. As a bonus, getting together with friends is an excellent excuse to share stories over cakes and cookies from nearby Paderia Bakehouse or tacos from Taco Maria.

In the words of author C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘You too? I thought I was the only one.’” This year, celebrate International Day of Friendship by reconnecting on a video call, sending letters, or sharing a meal with the special people in your life.