The health benefits of friends

There's no debating that friendships can enrich your life and improve your health. For many people, making and maintaining friendships is easy, while others struggle with reaching out and making these connections.

What the research says

A new Brigham Young University study suggests our social relationships to be the "short list" of factors that predict a person's odds of living or dying. In the journal PLoS Medicine, BYU professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith report that social connections - friends, family, neighbours or colleagues - improve our odds of survival by 50%.

The Mayo Clinic describes friendships as a great way to enrich your life and improve your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:

● Increase your sense of belonging and purpose

● Boost your happiness and reduce your stress

● Improve your self-confidence and self-worth

● Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one

● Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.

With all of the benefits that quality friendships offer, why do adults find it hard to make and maintain these relationships? Friends may be put aside when life gets hectic because kids, careers, and other activities become a priority. Often, people live in a community where they find it difficult to find opportunities to make connections with people who share their interests.

Read on to find out more about the health benefits of friends.


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