With International Day of Friendship coming up on July 30th, we thought it’d be a good time to consider the importance of friendship to our wellbeing . Friends may challenge us, confuse us, and sometimes make us feel we’d be better off without them but they’re as important to our wellbeing as eating the right foods and exercising.
As well as being there to help you celebrate the good times and support you during the bad ones, it’s been found that friendships can also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Knowing that support is available can increase feelings of security and help to build a sense of belonging and self-confidence, whilst sharing perceptions and difficulties can help get problems into perspective and even find new ways to tackle them. Friends can also provide the support to get you through life’s traumas, such as divorce, illness, redundancy or the death of a loved one, and encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.
It’s been seen that adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many health problems and that older adults are likely to live longer. Isolation and loneliness are significant factors that affect all generations and can trigger anxiety and depression leading to a negative effect on physical health. Friendship has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression so creating and maintaining strong relationships is essential for health and well-being. Many adults find it hard to develop new friendships or even keep up existing ones. Friendships take a back seat to other priorities such as work or caring for children or aging parents, or they grow apart because of changes in their lives or interests. Sometimes the pace of life can simply mean they don’t have the time, energy, or money to socialise which is why social networking sites such as Facebook have become an important communication channel for many people.
The great thing about friendship is that there are no rules on the amount of friends we can have or the way we interact with them. Friendships don’t always run smoothly, but the beauty is that they are relationships that are constantly evolving. Different people speak to different aspects of ourselves and each relationship is unique with it’s own character and profile.
Developing and maintaining good friendships takes effort but investing the time in making friends and strengthening relationships gives us a valuable resource that can help us through difficult times as well as bringing us better health and happiness.