Do you look forward to a night out? Smile when you get a text from a good friend? Feel better after venting to a co-worker about a problem? There is strength in numbers. Friendship is about so much more than social conventions or a sense of obligation. It is an important part of our daily lives, mental well-being, and overall level of health. Countless studies have shown there are friendship benefits to consider. From reduced stress levels to stronger immune systems and boosted self-confidence…. it has never been more important to focus on your inner circle. If you’ve been hiding away lately (or need an excuse to add more dates to your social calendar), consider the advantages of talking, sharing, and bonding with others.
Friendship Benefits – Lower Stress Levels
These days, it seems harder and harder to establish and maintain friendships. Since adults tend to have less free time (thanks to longer work hours, needing to be readily available to clients and co-workers, and increased responsibilities at home)…friendship often gets put on the back burner. Seeing friends becomes a once in a while event rather than a regular part of your routine. While it’s understandable how and why this happens, it isn’t a healthy choice. Studies have shown that close friendships can reduce stress in both adolescents and adults.
Being around friends (or knowing you have close friends to turn to) alters the way your body reacts to stressful situations. Sharing what you’re going through with someone you trust can make a world of difference. Emotionally, you feel supported, and that in itself can lower your overall stress levels. Additionally, your body produces less of the stress hormone, cortisol. That means a calmer state of being and a little peace of mind. Not to mention improved heart health. A three-year study found that men and women who had few or no friends had a 50% higher change of experiencing a first-time heart attack. This is why friendship is so important! Reduced cortisol levels in the body lowers the chance of inflammation in the arteries that can lead to heart attack.
There are other friendship benefits to consider as well. That includes increased self-confidence and a happier outlook on life. Don’t believe it? Think back on the last outing you had with a friend or a really good conversation you had with someone special in your life. Maybe you shared stories, caught up with one another, or that person confided in you about a personal problem they were having. Whatever the conversation was about…chances are, you left feeling better. Whether they helped you or you helped them (or a little bit of both), it likely impacted your mood in a positive way. Having someone to talk to can be an instant confidence booster.
Strong friendships have the ability to increase our confidence and feelings of self-worth. Their support makes us feel valuable and valued. Their advice makes us feel less alone. The give and take dynamic of a friendship has been found to be beneficial for all involved parties. If that wasn’t enough, friendships can also make you happier. Socializing or enjoying activities together can strengthen your bonds and also make you more joyful overall. When you are feeling low or out of sorts, send an old friend an email or make that long overdue call. You don’t have to wait for others to reach out to you. Take the first step towards a healthier and happier life.
Better Able to Deal With Trauma
The next on this list of friendship benefits has to do with trauma. In life, things don’t always go our way. Unexpected events can leave scars and make it difficult to move forward in a healthy manner. It could be that the company you’ve worked for all your life is downsizing or perhaps a loved one is ill and you’ll need to be their full-time caretaker. Maybe your rent is increasing significantly and now you’ll to get a second job or move somewhere else. Perhaps a long-term relationship has come to an end. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses…but that is the benefit of having friends you can turn to.
Yes, one of the most emotionally significant friendship benefits is help dealing with trauma. Whether you are going through a divorce or are struggling with a major life change, friends can help you through it. Their time, energy, and advice helps you feel supported and grounded. (For more advice on grounding, check out this Spirit Earth Magazine article on Grounding & Protection.) Friends are there for you. They have the ability to help you transition from one chapter of life to another. They can minimize scars and keep you focused on the future. Once you let someone in…every aspect of your life perks up. Even when times are tough.
Improved Overall Health
In some ways, it may seem easier to avoid friendships. You don’t have to commit time to another person and you can focus on your own life. However, many studies indicate that friendship benefits are linked to all aspects of health. That includes mental health, emotional health, and physical health. For instance, adults with strong support systems tend to have lower instances of depression. They often have lower blood pressure as well. Additionally, they tend to have a healthier BMI and even longer life spans.
Friendships encourage you to share, connect, and improve your life. They allow you to be open and vulnerable. They help you establish healthy boundaries and experience different points of view. Plus, friendships allow you to connect to – and become – your best self. Though it may seem like a waste of time to grab a coffee after work or go to a Farmer’s Market early on a Sunday morning…these moments help you learn, grow, and experience a high level of overall well-being.
It isn’t easy to develop or maintain a circle of friends. That being said, it is absolutely worth it! There are many friendship benefits to embrace and enjoy. Remember, spending time with people you care about isn’t a waste of time: it is an investment in your future health and happiness.