What distinguishes us from other species is our ability to interact and communicate with each other. When we isolate ourselves, we are detaching from this unique characteristic and, some may say, making our lives unnecessarily difficult.
Why do we need friends? During childhood, they influence us in sculpting our personality, self-worth and attitudes. As adults, from a psychological perspective, surrounding yourself with good friends can help in boosting your self-confidence and self-value. They can help you cope with traumas like job loss, illness or death of a dear one.
As another study shows that people’s personal networks have shrunk over the last 35 years, and with busy lives, millennials are finding it increasingly difficult to forge and maintain social relationships with work, fighting against loneliness through strong social networks is becoming a critical issue.
However, having good friends doesn’t only have psychological benefits, rather new studies show that there may be direct tremendous health advantages that may transform your life:
1. Choose the right people:
According to a recent study conducted at Brigham Young University, loneliness can be more harmful to your life span than obesity. Let’s also remember the isolating effect the internet can have on our generation when we think of the health effects.
Engaging yourself with friends who possess healthy habits will help you to do the same.
It is usually the case that with a social support system you adapt the practices that your friends do, vice versa. It is extremely crucial for you to be critical when picking the right people to broaden your social system.
2. Increase your life span with friends:
A study from BYU and University of Chapel Hill North Carolina concluded that people with relatively small social group had a 50% higher risk of dying at a much earlier age.
As long as we have good friends, regardless of how old they are or how distant they are geographically, there are higher chances for a long and healthy life.
3. Get by with a little help from your friends:
Friendship plays a critical role in life-death situations. Your social support system might contribute to the acceleration of disease recovery.
In a study of 200 breast cancer survivors, lonelier women experienced more pain, depression and fatigue than those with stronger connections to friends. The disconnected women also had a higher risk of a weak immune system and cardiovascular problems.
Patience with such severe illnesses is usually advised by doctors to stay close to friends mainly because this will help them divert their negative thoughts and keep themselves busy.
Moreover, according Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Brigham Young University,
“One thing research shows is that as one’s social network gets smaller, one’s risk for mortality increases.”
Interestingly, the health benefits derived from good friends are likely to be involuntary. A strong social system can help you internally cope up with your weaknesses and strengths. Friends are our companions to long and tough pathways in life; therefore it is wise to pick those who you consider will make you a better person.
We often perceive friendship as merely a psychological phenomenon and disregard the health benefits that it holds. It is important to accept the two equally derived advantages of social support as they play a fundamental role in our life.
“Social support is everything,”
What do you think? Is this research compelling enough for you to put down your screens and go out and meet a friend?