…the feeling’s oh so strong. You got to have friends to make the day last long. – Bette Midler
Studies show that people who have satisfying relationships with friends and family are happier and healthier and even live longer than folks who don’t. In fact, people who lack strong social ties risk premature death at rates comparable to those who smoke up to 15 cigarettes a day. Solid friendships can be as important to your health as a good diet, and plenty of sleep and exercise.
When you have positive relationships, your friends help you:
- Live longer. Studies connect people with strong social lives to living longer lives than those who are more isolated. Good friendships help reduce the overall stress in life and contribute to your sense of belonging, positive self-worth, increased confidence and general happiness.
- Keep mentally healthy. People with good social support were the most likely to stave off mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Good friends can help you break bad habits. They can also help you weather devastating events in life, as well as savor the good times.
- Be physically healthy. Studies of biomarkers like blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference and levels of inflammation show that people with more social connections get better results. And people with the greatest risk of dementia have greater feelings of loneliness than others. That does not include being alone, something totally different from being lonely. Some people need more alone time than others. But everyone needs friends. They are literally good for your health.
Good friendships are critically important in your life. They require a healthy balance between individuals so you both feel you are being supported, understood and happy. If you have friendships that feel lopsided or toxic, you may feel stifled, frustrated, drained and exhausted. And that can be bad for your health.
Maybe it’s time to reassess whether these friendships provide you with enough positive aspects to continue on or whether these friendships are hard on your health and should be ended.
You got to have friends, as the song says, but they need to be good ones.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contacts.