In a world where success often takes the spotlight, we tend to underestimate the power of something as simple yet vital as friendships.
Beyond the joy of having companions and sharing laughter, friendships silently enhance our lives in many ways.
Imagine a life without friends—a world where there's no one to share your triumphs or lend a shoulder during tough times.
Friendships are like the hidden treasures that make the journey of life exciting and meaningful. They're the people who turn ordinary moments into unforgettable memories.
But there's more to these connections than meets the eye. As we explore the magic of friendships, we'll discover the incredible ways they brighten our days and keep us thriving.
This blog explores the profound link between friendships and our well-being. Let's dive into the science-backed secrets that show how these bonds not only bring happiness but also boost mental and physical health, leading to a longer and more satisfying life.
1) Friendships can strengthen your immune system -
Lydia Denworth, a science journalist who explored the science of friendship in her book, highlights how being socially isolated can affect your immune system.
When you're lonely, your white blood cells start behaving differently, causing more inflammation and weakening your body's ability to fight off illnesses.
Another study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at many studies that linked having friends and being part of groups with being healthy.
They then did a new study and found that people who have lots of different social connections are much less likely to catch a cold as compared to those who didn’t have many social connections.
It was found that the risk of getting a cold was almost cut in half for people who knew a variety of different people, while those who were more isolated were at a higher risk of getting sick.
This was even more important for things like smoking, not getting enough vitamin C, or feeling stressed.
Hence, having a diverse group of friends and connections can help keep you from catching a cold and build your immune system.
2) Friendships can make you sleep better and heal faster –
The benefits of social connections go beyond the immune system. People who have strong social networks tend to live longer and healthier lives, with a lower risk of high blood pressure. Friends can also help you sleep better and recover from injuries faster, as shown in studies involving skin injuries.
On the flip side, troubled or strained friendships can predict chronic illnesses. Surprisingly, social disconnection can be a more significant risk for early death than common factors like smoking or high cholesterol.
Research by Saida Heshmati, a psychologist at Claremont Graduate University in the US, and her team shows that it doesn't really matter where acts of kindness and love come from or who they come from.
What's crucial is the quality of these interactions. This means that when you're not feeling well, you can receive care and love not only from your family but also from your friends, and it still counts just as much which eventually leads you to healing faster.
3) Healthy Friendships can improve your life’s vitality -
It has been proven that friendships are a secret ingredient for a happier, healthier and longer life. They're not just about fun and company; they significantly reduce stress, lower the risk of depression, and boost emotional strength.
Sometimes, friendships can be even more beneficial than marriage or family bonds. Research from 97 countries shows that valuing both family and friends is linked to better health and happiness in general.
What's more, having friends can improve your heart health, reducing the chances of high blood pressure and heart disease. Surprisingly, these benefits stand out even when compared to romantic or family relationships.
4) Friendships can help improve issues like dementia and depression -
Friendships are important, especially as we grow older. Even just having acquaintances can be useful throughout our lives. Strong friendships give us important support, in building up our immune system and in some cases, it can help in warding off common flu like symptoms.
For older adults, friendships stand out as even more vital for their well-being and happiness. Scientists have used brain scans (fMRI) to see what happens in the brain when people hang out with friends.
These scans show that being with friends activates parts of the brain linked to understanding how others feel, and it also makes the reward centre in the brain more active.
When it comes to tackling loneliness and improving health, it's not just older people who can benefit. Doctors usually ask patients about their friendships, because having a social circle can protect against one against dementia in the later stages of their life.
5) What is Social Prescribing in friendships?
People of all ages can gain from social activities recommended by doctors, a concept known as "social prescribing." Social prescribing isn't just for seniors; it's for everyone. For instance, in a study, it was found that people have significant benefits by participating in activities like volunteering and joining walking groups.
In one study, when people had a chance to win or share money with a friend or someone they didn't like, the reward centre was most active when they picked their friend. This suggests that our brains really like spending time with friends and find it rewarding.
Some individuals even reduce their use of antidepressants, but it's essential to consult with a doctor before making such changes.
Although we need more clear proof about which actions are most effective in promoting healthy friendships, there are some basic things that we can all do right now. One fundamental lesson is to not underestimate the value of our friends.
6) Conclusion –
In the grand tapestry of life, friendships are the vibrant threads that weave together our mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
They stand as pillars of strength in our most challenging moments and dance with us in our happiest times. So, let us cherish these invaluable connections, for in the embrace of true friendships, we find the profound support that makes life's journey not only bearable but beautiful.