Can Friendships Make You Healthier? Experts say, yes!
Having friends can be the single most important life choice you make to live longer, more importantly, healthier. A review of 148 studies of over 300,000 people found that those with strong social connections had a 50% better chance of survival. And this does not mean followers on the internet but real friends you interact with on a personal level. Those with the most friends out lived those with fewer by 22%. Benefits also include reduce health risks like stress, body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure, and depression, just to name a few. Furthermore, the study notes; "These findings indicate that the influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity." People who are less isolated and have many friends across their life span live longer healthier lives than those that isolate themselves.
Friends are there for the good times and also benefit you as you go through difficult times like a loss or heart break, they are your support system. We should take our social connections and friendships seriously. Take care of them like we do with exercise and eating right. Whether it is going out or inviting friends over the benefits of personal interaction can be life changing. Online social networks are a great way to meet people if it is a means doing things together outside of the internet. Don't limit yourself to one form of meeting people, investing in your social connections is investing in your health. Quality matters more the quantity.
The Mayo Clinic references these benefits:
- Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
- Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
- Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
- Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
- Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
Taking a "time-out" for you and a friend even if to just sit and talk over tea at a local shop can help you in ways you may not be aware of. Growing your friendship network can be the key to a longer healthier life.
The Mayo Clinic offers a great suggestions and tips.