Friendship: The Surprising Health Benefits

Friendship: The Surprising Health Benefits

You may be surprised to learn that friends can improve your health and well-being. 

According to the Harvard Medical School, having friends and participating in social activities can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and death from all causes; help you recover from illness more quickly; boost your mental health, and even prolong your life. Furthermore, studies show that people with more extensive social networks live longer than those who aren't as socially active.

Building A Social Network Helps Reduce Stress

According to studies, the most significant determinant of health and quality of life is an individual's social connections. The health benefits of a solid social network are well-known, but many people don't know that your friends are also a key component in the healthy way you live. 

Your friends and the time you spend with them impact not only your mental health but also your physical well-being.

Friendships Strengthen Your Immune System

Studies have shown that making friends is one of the best things you can do for your health. In many ways, friendships have an even more beneficial effect on physical and mental well-being than family relationships. 

One of the ways that our immune system is strengthened by friends is in response to periods of stress or hardship. Research has found that those who go through difficult times with friends experience a quicker recovery from a physical illness and more robust emotional stability when compared to others who do not have such social support.

Friends Provide Support And Guidance

Friends provide us with emotional support and guidance. Friendships can help reduce loneliness, reduce depression, and improve our mental health. Friends also have a lot of opportunities to provide tangible assets, such as when they offer to babysit so you can get some rest or keep an eye on your dog while you're at work. These small gestures might not seem like much, but they can make all the difference in your day-to-day life.

Laughing With Friends Keeps Your Heart Healthy

There's a whole host of reasons that friends and friendships are essential for your health, and their impact may reach far beyond just providing us with company and entertainment. For example, one study found that people who have friends can add an average of 10 years to their lifespan! Sure, there's no guarantee that you'll have as many friends as you grow older. 

Still, the bottom line is that friendship promotes longevity by reducing stress levels, blood pressure, and inflammation in the body, which in turn cuts down on heart disease. There are other surprising health benefits, too; if you laugh together often with friends (the researchers say at least three times a week), this laughter triggers hormones that reduce stress, decrease pain sensitivity and boost immune function.

Having A Few Close Friends Can Increase Happiness And Life Satisfaction

Studies show that the frequency of contact we have with our friends (at least once per week) largely dictates these effects in adults. Surveys show that having just a few close friends can positively affect people's happiness and life satisfaction. 

Additionally, friendship provides more benefits to our health than any other type of social relationship. When surveyed, people with closer relationships with their friends were less likely to report feeling sad or anxious and were more likely to report good physical health.

Quality Over Quantity Counts When It Comes To Friendships

It's not enough to have a few friends you only occasionally get in touch with; more is better. A growing body of research indicates that your mental and physical health is impacted by your friendships' quality, not quantity. Friendships give us a sense of belonging, which is necessary for our mental health and well-being. 

Evidence suggests that friendships lower blood pressure and decrease mortality rates. Research has also shown that friendships provide protection against loneliness or depression as well as anxiety disorders. In addition to having several friends, they must have many in common, so you feel like you are part of something larger than yourself.

People Who Lack Friends Are More Likely To Develop Mental Illnesses

Studies show that people who lack friends are more likely to develop mental illnesses such as depression and dementia. A study done in Sweden tracked 8,900 subjects over 15 years. 

Those without close relationships were two to three times more likely to experience anxiety and depressive disorders, four times more likely to develop dementia, and five times more likely to commit suicide than those with a network of supportive relationships. These findings indicate that having good friends can have a powerful protective effect on physical and mental health.

Companionship And Communication Are Two Important Aspects Of A Meaningful Relationship

We all know how important it is to have strong friendships, and many benefits come with having a supportive network of friends around you. For example, companionship and communication are essential aspects of a meaningful relationship. 

Friendship can help reduce stress levels by buffering the harmful effects of social isolation on well-being while also providing some sense of control when we're emotionally overwhelmed.

Good Relationships Are Vital For Our Emotional Well-Being, Both As Children And As Adults

People are often encouraged to spend more time with friends and loved ones, but the benefits of strong relationships can go unrecognized. Relationships provide emotional support and shape your ability to cope with life's challenges and difficulties. 

Friends give us someone to call when things go wrong and offer a non-judgmental sounding board for big decisions like choosing a college or a career path. Strong relationships enable people to navigate complex problems healthier while providing access to social resources that promote physical health. 

A tight network of good relationships protects against mental illness and depression by boosting feel-good brain chemicals called neurotransmitters; for example, serotonin levels increase during time spent with friends.

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