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Health, Wellness, and Good Times: The Importance of Having Friends

By Donna Stark

Health, Wellness, and Good Times: The Importance of Having Friends

Friends. It’s a word you may hear tossed around in many of your conversations, but have you ever wondered why it is so important to have good friends in your life? For most of us, friends are the ones we call when we have good news to share and the ones we lean on the most when life goes sideways. We have fun with our friends, we share our secrets with friends, and we wouldn't expect anyone else but our friends to set us straight if we needed it.

As the saying goes, "A good friend is like a four-leaf clover. They’re hard to find and lucky to have.”

What Makes a Friend?

The meaning of friendship is different for everyone. Friends can be childhood classmates, family members, coworkers, neighbors from the past, and maybe even the Amazon delivery driver if you place enough orders throughout the year.

You may prefer to count only a select few of your friends to be in your circle or you may believe that it's impossible to have too many and welcome them all. And it doesn't matter if you talk to or see your friends every day of the week or choose to wait until the end of the month to catch up with each other's lives because time doesn’t take away from friendship, and neither does separation.

As long as you are OK with the state of your friendships, it doesn't matter how you maintain them or what they look like to those on the outside.

Why Is it Important to Have Friends?

A sweet friendship is refreshing to the soul, but that's not all it is good for. Having a core group of true friends can also provide a strong support system that can positively impact your overall health and well-being. Here are just a few reasons why it is so important to have friends in your life.

Emotional Support

Friends provide emotional support during both the good and bad times of life. They can offer a shoulder for you to cry on, a listening ear when you need to vent, and sound advice when you are facing difficult decisions. They are the perfect ones to help you navigate life's ups and downs because they are often the ones who know you the best.

Mental Health

If your friends are good ones, they can help improve your mental health. Strong friendships offer a sense of belonging and purpose, boost morale, minimize feelings of loneliness, and alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety. These benefits have long been known to contribute to one's overall happiness and quality of life.

Social Connections

Friendships can also help promote social interaction with others by providing opportunities to meet new people and try different things. Creating memories and sharing fun experiences is always a great way to start new relationships.

Personal Development

If a friend isn't going to hold you accountable to the goals and promises you set for yourself, who will? Good friends are those who aren't afraid to challenge you, offer their advice, and cheer you on from the sidelines. They can also help you grow by introducing you to new perspectives, broadening your horizons, and inspiring you to reach for the stars.

Physical Health

One of the most important benefits of having strong relationships with your friends is improved physical health. Researchers have been studying this for years and have found that adults who have healthy relationships and support are likely to live longer than those with fewer connections. In fact, one study showed that healthy friendships can lower the risk of heart attacks and coronary heart disease.

General Support

Life is hard enough as it is, but can you imagine how much worse it could be if you didn't have your best friends by your side? Good friends are always there for you during times of need. They lend a hand during times of crisis, drive your kids to school when you are sick, and help you complete daily tasks when you become overwhelmed. And let’s face it, friends are lifesavers when we need a ride to the airport.

How Can We Make Friends?

It's easy to see why it is so important to have strong relationships with friends. Friends offer emotional support, foster social connections, improve physical and mental health, encourage personal growth, and provide assistance during the tough times in our lives. However, creating and nurturing your friendships isn't easy. It does require some work. Here are some ideas on how you can build and strengthen these connections -- just in time for International Friendship Day on July 30.

  • Get involved - Ask a friend (or two) to join a club or to sign up for a fitness class with you. Register for community events or volunteer for a local charity. Networking and engaging in activities with like-minded people are great ways to create new friendships and strengthen the ones you already have.
  • Stay in touch - If you want to combat social isolation and make new friends, the best thing you can do is to stay in touch with coworkers, classmates, and family. Send a simple text or leave a message on social media saying "hello." Who knows? It may end up being the start of a lovely friendship.
  • Plan ahead - A night of friendly competition and fun may be exactly what everyone needs, so organize a game night with your friends. Whether you pull out the board games or you showcase your skills at charades, a good time is sure to be had by everyone. And don't forget to plan other events too. It's an easy way to build your circle of friends.
  • Explore the arts - Visit a local museum, attend a concert, or sign up for an art class. It's easy to cement a friendship with these activities because people are more likely to open up when their creative side is unleashed. They are also great for creating lasting memories with the people you love.

Remember, the most important aspect of these activities is spending quality time and creating meaningful connections with your friends. Choose activities that align with your interests, encourage communication and cooperation, and bring joy to everyone involved.

Ridding the World of Lonely People

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but having true friends and a good social support system can help keep those times from happening too often. They can also help improve your overall health and well-being, so open yourself up to the possibility of new friendships. It may be the best decision you make in your life.

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