I just had a reunion weekend with my college room mates, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years and it was amazing! It got me thinking about friendship and its effect on us. First, I think it’s important to clarify what a real or true friendship is. In todays world of social media, casual acquaintances, remote coworkers and various community relationships defining a real friendship can be challenging.
Ways to identify a “true” friendship:
- When you talk or see each other, even after years, you feel like you saw each other yesterday.
- You know each others dreams, likes/dislikes and habits.
- You know each others values and history.
- You really care about them and that they are safe, healthy and happy.
- You tell each other the truth, even when it’s hard to.
Note: if you think you have more than 5 really close friends your either very devoted to your friendship relationships or need to reevaluate. Like any good relationship, it requires work. Personally, I’d rather have a handful of true friendships than thousands of acquantances.
Now, lets turn to the scientific benefits of real friendship. Harvard Women’s Health Watch released a study revealing that strong social connections can improve health and increase longevity. It turns out that real friendships are just as important to your health as choosing not to smoke, eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep. Having real friendships can actually help you to live longer. Researchers found that people who had authentic friendships were happier, better adjusted, had fewer health problems and indeed lived longer.
Some of the benefits of real friendships that will help you to live longer include:
- Boosting your happiness and reducing your stress
- Helping you to cope with negative life changes like divorce, illness, job loss, death and other trauma
- Improving your self confidence and sense of belonging/purpose
- Provides encouragement relative to healthy lifestyles like regular exercise and minimal drinking/smoking
The measured results appear as a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).
We like this post from mayo clinic about the health benefits of friendships because they not only highlight the scientific details but they make recommendations for keeping and building friendships.
In summary, with COVID, I think we have all taken a good look at ourselves and our lives. If something its missing for you one of the best things you can do is to reach out to a true friend. Wether you have spoken recently or not for years reestablishing that relationship can help you and your bestie live happier and longer.
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