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Why having a best friend is good for your health

Why having a best friend is good for your health

Friends make us happy, well most of the time at least. But does having a bestie mean life is that much more manageable? MiNDFOOD investigates.

Why having a best friend is good for your health

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
  • Volunteer
  • Take up a new hobby
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