Exercising and eating right are two critical components in health, but they’re not the only things that matter. When leading a long, healthy life is the plan, people matter, too. Those who take care of their personal friendships and have a strong network of support are more likely to live longer, happier and healthier lives.

Research has shown that support networks of friends and family are critical for overall well-being. The trick, however, often lies in finding the time to maintain interpersonal relationships. After all, it’s often not easy to keep up with work, a family at home and friends.

Here are some tips that can help:

  • Make time every day for family – Even if it’s just sitting down to dinner together or a quick breakfast before heading out for the day, time together to bond does matter. If family is far away, make time for regular check ins by phone, email or chat. Video chat is a great way to close the miles for keeping up with both friends and family.
  • Schedule friend time – Keeping up with friendships can be one of the hardest things to accomplish with a busy schedule. Friendships, however, are crucial. If finding time is difficult, consider scheduling it. Even monthly gatherings for lunch, dinner or a backyard barbecue can help keep the lines of communication open and friendships going strong.  Better yet, workout with your friends so you stay fit and enhance those bonds.
  • Use social networking – When time really is at a premium, social networking is a fantastic way to stay connected. It won’t replace the face-to-face time that’s desired, but it can help with a sense of connectivity to friends near and far.
  • Pick up the phone – Checking in with friends by phone is more personal than going online and it can serve as a great substitute for face-to-face time especially with friends who are far away. Just picking up the phone to say “hello” tells friends they matter and they’re being thought of.
  • Send out cards – Mail out cards or short hand-written notes on holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. This is a great, and very personal way, to let friends know they matter. In this day and age, hand-written cards and notes are a rarity and they are much appreciated when received.

There’s more to enjoying good personal health than just eating right and working out. Keeping up with personal networks of friends and family is also critical. Take time to reach out to those that matter.