Friends accompany us through life. Some since childhood, some only come later – through training, work or hobby. Unlike relatives, we can choose them. And even if it is not always easy to maintain friendships over the years, it is still worth maintaining them. Here are 5 reasons why friends are good for us and why spending time with them is a worthwhile investment.
Friends Keep You From Loneliness
Loneliness is more than a feeling, as numerous studies show. Loneliness is really unhealthy. It promotes stress and high blood pressure, causes cardiovascular problems, depression and has a negative effect on the quality of sleep. Ultimately, loneliness — or the lack of social connections — is just as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day as alcoholism or obesity, researchers point out. Friends are therefore an immensely important anchor in life, especially for singles and older people. If, for example, the spouse dies, the surviving dependent is at high risk of also dying in the following year. Because the psyche and immune system then experience high levels of stress and become more susceptible to illnesses. Friends can help fill that gap. So how important they might one day become – for example as roommates in a shared flat for the elderly – should be made clear at an early age.
Friends Encourage An Active Lifestyle
The best friend has stopped smoking, the buddy goes jogging twice a week: Friends are often role models who pull us along, motivate us and encourage us to try new things. As a group or individually, they exercise a degree of control that, at best, encourages a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that older people who are socially satisfied are around 40 percent more active than those who feel alone. In addition, lonely people eat more fat. Lose a few pounds or look for a new hobby – it usually works better in company. The Beatles sang “With a little help from my friends”.
Friends Regulate The Feeling Of Stress
You can share joy and sorrow with friends. Above all, the worries of everyday life – whether trouble at work or relationship problems – can be discussed with friends. This venting is extremely healthy, while gorging on anger is more than harmful. Especially people with few social contacts tend to have a permanently increased stress level. If there is no one there with whom one can exchange ideas, who provides emotional support and who assesses situations objectively, one runs the risk of perceiving stressful moments as stronger and pleasant moments as weaker. The consequences are pessimism, fear, helplessness – and stress again. Not good for the heart and circulation.
Friends Keep You Mentally Fit
Movie and pub evenings, listening and talking, heated discussions and deep philosophizing: friends and joint activities and conversations with them promote our cognitive health. A study at Oxford University showed that certain parts of the brain are more strongly networked in people with high social skills and a stable circle of friends than in those with fewer social contacts. This may result in valuable mental reserves for old age and an advantage over lonely people. Because the risk of developing Alzheimer’s can double as a result of a lack of contact and social isolation.
Friends Strengthen The Immune System
Life is healthier in a clique: According to a study by the Ohio State University, people with many friends have a better immune system than those who live a more secluded life. Because where there are many social contacts, there are also many germs with which we continuously train our defenses. The researchers also found more cytokines in the blood of lonely people, i.e. proteins that can promote the occurrence of inflammation, heart attacks, diabetes and arthritis. Friends also play an important role in the recovery process after illness. And not just psychologically. Those who feel satisfied and supported have higher levels of the hormones oxytocin or dopamine in the blood, which boosts self-healing powers. When loved ones are sitting at the bedside, stress hormones such as cortisol are held back and endorphins are released, substances that relieve pain.