The Health Benefits of Friendship

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In life, we continuously meet new people, develop new connections, and build new and lasting relationships. Forming genuine relationships with people is not only beneficial to our life as a whole, but also to our long term health. Good friends provide support in the toughest times and always have your back no matter what. The higher quality of friendship, the more beneficial it is to each of your lives. One important life lesson is to never take friendships for granted. Though, sometimes they are hard to maintain, friendships are more valuable than we think.

Quality connections and relationships are what count the most. According to Gallup polling data from 2004, 98 percent of Americans report having at least one close friend. Forming a special bond of friendship with someone can benefit you in more ways than one. They can increase your sense of belonging and purpose, boost your happiness and reduce your stress levels, help you cope with traumas, and encourage you stay on a healthy path of life. Also, it is scientifically proven that people with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).

Not only do friendships come with health benefits, but they also improve cognition and keep your mind sharp. Research by the American Journal of Public Health found that among older women, those who had daily contact with friends saw their risk of developing dementia reduced by 43 percent compared with those who had contact less than once a week. This may be because social interaction helps form new synaptic connections, slowing down cognitive decline.

Friends influence us in many ways. They can open our minds by sharing their ideals, beliefs, and life experiences with us. They can change our perspective on life and make us realize things that we haven’t noticed before. They can help shape us into the person we are meant to be. And if the friendship ends up not working out, then it is guaranteed you will learn, at least one, valuable life lesson from it.

If you are more introverted or shy, then challenge yourself and put yourself out there. There are many ways to meet new people! You just have to invest time and energy into building new relationships. Some ways could be by attending community events, volunteering, or even just going on a walk. Practically, you could meet new people at anytime, anywhere as long as you are willing to take the first step. There is always room for new friends, along with improving and maintaining your current ones.

Never take your friends for granted, especially your closest ones. We need to cherish the friendships we make in life and hold onto them as long as we can. As humans, it is our natural instinct to reach out to people and connect with them. And forming those relationships is what helps us live healthier lives. Also, having people in your life that you can confide is always reassuring, especially in times of need. Just remember a friend is “someone that reaches for your hand and touches your heart.”

By: Claire Imazu

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