Countless research has long shown that friendship is essential for both your physical and mental well-being. “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer,” a 2017 Harvard Women’s Health Watch report said.
Having a social network (and not an online one, but real connections) can lengthen your lifespan, help you maintain a healthy weight, and keep your brain fit as you age. Research shows that friendships help with these wellness goals by:
- Giving you a sense of belonging and greater purpose in life
- Making you happier, and even reducing your stress
- Improving your confidence and self-worth
- Giving you the tools and support to help cope with major events in your life, such as job loss or the death of a loved one
- Inspiring you to live a life of healthy habits, including healthy eating and fitness regimes
- Making you feel less lonely
Often, there is no substitute for Friends for Life, and no substitute for face-to-face contact.
But what about a best friend?
In a 2017 article published in Child Development, researchers found that having a childhood best friend can play a significant role in a person’s mental health well into adulthood. “Close friendship strength in mid-adolescence predicted relative increases in self‐worth and decreases in anxiety and depressive symptoms by early adulthood,” the report found.
As you progress into adulthood, having a best friend offers the benefit of a genuinely close and easy companionship. With a best friend, you always have someone to do things with, such as going to the gym, confiding in over a personal issue and even simply to bounce ideas off. This all contributes to a greater sense of self-worth, decreases anxiety – making you happier.
Need new friends?
If lockdown has made you re-evaluate your friendships, you might be inspired to get out and meet new people once social distancing restrictions are eased. Here are a few good ways to make new friends:
- Attend community events
- Take up a new hobby