We often underestimate how much our friendship means to others, a new study says.

So, we’re shy to reach out to old friends, afraid it will be awkward or unappreciated.

The research says: Reach out! You’ll be glad you did.

“People are fundamentally social beings and enjoy connecting with others,” wrote Peggy Liu, the study's lead author in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Sometimes, people reach out to others — whether simply to check-in on how others are doing with brief messages or to show that they are thinking of others by sending small gifts to them,” she wrote. “Yet, despite the importance and enjoyment of social connection, do people accurately understand how much other people value being reached out to by someone in their social circle?”

Researchers held 13 experiments with almost 6,000 participants to see if people could estimate how much their friends value them reaching out and what forms of communication have the biggest effect. Reaching out meant making a call; sending a text, email or note; or mailing a small gift.

The study found that people significantly underestimated the reaction their gesture would bring.

Friendships are important to our physical, mental and social health as we age, and can even predict our health and longevity. Having strong friendships boosts our overall wellbeing.

So go ahead. Pick up the phone.

It’ll be good for you.

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