The Importance of Friendship (As Explained by Science)
After a great first date, who do you find yourself calling first?
For the vast majority of us, it’s our best friend who gets that first ring! They have the privilege of hearing all the details – from what you wore to what you ate, what your date looked like, and where he or she took you.
Best friends are there for us in the best of times – and they’re also there for us in challenging times, often when we need them most.
But just how important are friendships? Getting beyond the surface of the love and support that a friendship provides, what are the actual scientific and psychological benefits of a best friend?
We were curious, so we decided to find out.
Here are four reasons why developing friendships is so important to your health and happiness.
1. Having friends, especially in the workplace, will make you feel more engaged.
Believe it or not, those who say they do not have friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job.
And, since most of us spend more time at work than we do with our partners, families, or friends outside of the workplace, this statistic is very important.
Can you imagine not feeling engaged in your work? So, if you find yourself in this position currently, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself – are you happy with the people who surround you in the workplace?
Conversely, if you have a best friend in the workplace, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job. Amazing, right?If you have a best friend in the workplace, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job Click To Tweet
2. Having great friends might actually make you live longer.
It just makes sense, right? Having a great group of friends, or even a close best friend, can extend your life.
According to a 2010 study, the impact of social ties can have a greater impact on your health than exercise.The impact of social ties can have a greater impact on your health than exercise. Click To Tweet
In this study with more than 300,000 participants involved, it was found that the measures of social relationships, from the number of friends to their involvement in the community, were all linked to decreased mortality.
Researchers believe that friendships lead to decreased stress and the lessening of stress in your life creates a healthier body.
3. Friendships help keep your mind sharp.
A 2012 study found that those 65 and older have increased signs of dementia if they experience feelings of loneliness.
The study followed over 2000 participants, and while none of them had dementia in the beginning of the study, 13.4% of the participants who expressed feelings of loneliness as the study began eventually developed dementia. While it could not determine whether being alone was the sole cause of dementia, it was found in association.
4. Friends help you through the tough times – whether you like it or not.
Remember the phone call we mentioned at the beginning of this blog? The one where you call your best friend immediately after a great first date?
What about a challenging situation? What if the first date goes horribly wrong, or – because we’ve all been there – what if a developing relationship ends suddenly, leaving you feeling lost and depressed? Well, of course having that good friend to turn to for support can make all the difference in the world!
In 2011, a study conducted with fourth graders found that having friends helps children cope with the stress of rejection and bullying. These researchers found that cortisol, which is a stress hormone, was released by children if their peers excluded them. The cortisol increase that came with being excluded or picked on was less pronounced in children who had more friendships or closer friendships, compared with those who had less.
So, close friendships can not only help children on the playground, it can also help us as we get older and face an increased number of challenges, whether in a classroom, workplace or in relationships.
As explained by science and psychology, it is clear that friendships are important at every age!. So, call or text your best friend right now and thank them – they’re helping you in so many ways, from decreasing your stress level to helping your mind stay sharp!