Friends are key to our overall success and well-being. They join in our celebrations, support us through difficult times, and offer us hands-on help and emotional guidance. Plus, friends are good for our health. In addition to boosting our mood and reducing stress, friends can be a positive influence in helping change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Here are three ways friends give us benefits:
They’re our support system: Friends can help us celebrate good times and provide support during bad times, such as divorce, death of a loved one, or dealing with the onset of a health condition like arthritis. With regard to health, a friend can alert us to any changes they’ve noticed in our physical or mental well-being, push us to stay on top of checkups, and remind us to take our medications as prescribed. Sometimes knowing a friend has your back can improve your overall mood and ability to cope with stress.
They lengthen our life span: According to research published in a medical journal, when we’re there for our friends we live longer lives. To put it in perspective, the impact stronger social relationships have on health is comparable with quitting smoking. And the brain releases oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that also reduces pain, when we offer friendship.
They keep us in shape: Having a regular exercise buddy can reinforce our commitment to sticking to a workout plan. Exercise is especially important in managing arthritis pain.5 Check out ideas and motivation from women like you who started an exercise program to help ease their arthritis symptoms. Consider starting a walking group or organize a group workout class at the local gym to keep in touch with old friends - or make some new ones! Of course, be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any activity.
Some people enjoy a big group of buddies, while others prefer a one-on-one relationship. In fact, you might have a couple of close comrades you turn to for deeply personal conversations, and other friends who join you at the movies or the museum. Whatever works for you!