Today is #FriendshipDay and to mark it, we thought we would take a look at how friendship can have a positive impact on our health. Good friends enrich our lives in many ways. They bring us great joy and lots of laughs in the good times and a shoulder to cry on and cup of tea in the bad. We may not realise it, but friendship makes an enormous contribution to our mental health and wellbeing:
“Friendship is a crucial element in protecting our mental health. We need to talk to our friends and we want to listen when our friends want to talk to us. Our friends can keep us grounded and can help us get things in perspective. It is worth putting effort into maintaining our friendships and making new friends. Friends form one of the foundations of our ability to cope with the problems that life throws at us.”
So how and in what ways do our friends make us feel better?
Friendship Can Help You Live Longer
According to a study conducted by the Centre For Ageing Studies at Flinders University in Australia, people who have a large network of friends are more likely to live longer than those who don’t. The study followed 1500 people over the course of 10 years, and found those with friends outlived those with fewer friends by 22%. While the reasons for this are not proven, those who carried out the study believe that the results are due to good friends dissuading each other from pursuing habits that are bad for their health, including drinking and smoking. They also feel that those older people who had friends were less likely to suffer from depression through feeling valued and supported by their friends.
Friendship Makes You Happy
Being surrounded by friends can have a huge impact on your happiness. Good friends do a lot to make you feel better about yourself. They can boost your self-esteem, make you feel involved and important, spend time with you and experience fun and joyful events with you. Over time, you build up a series of memories that you can reminisce over which makes a positive contribution to your overall happiness.
Friendship Reduces Stress
We all have worries and anxieties. It’s often easier to talk to friends, rather than family as friends are normally more removed from the situation and can offer an objective opinion. Friends can reduce your stress by listening and talking about your troubles, as well as offering solutions and support. Friends can be just the tonic you need if you are going through a particularly traumatic life event such as divorce, separation, grief, money worries or serious illness. Spending a morning nursing a coffee can do wonders for your mental wellbeing by getting all your worries out in the open and confiding in a friend.
Friendship Can Improve Your Wellbeing
Good friends will always be truthful with you. Sometimes it’s not what you want to hear but good friends will always be honest with the best intentions – even if they first need to be cruel to be kinder in the long run. It can be uncomfortable listening to home truths, but before you fly off the handle, consider why it is they are telling you. Often it will be to help you out long term, make improvements in your life or urge you to re-assess particular circumstances. Openness and honesty from the outset can often lessen your troubles in the long run, prevent heartache and strengthen your friendships. Over time this will also strengthen your resolve, improve your self-worth and confidence and contribute to your overall sense of wellbeing.