Being silly has its rewards…
Spending time with friends is fun, but it may also yield a multitude of long-term physical and emotional health benefits.
Friends who shop together, stay together
Studies show that healthy relationships make aging more enjoyable, lessen grief, and provide camaraderie to help you reach personal goals.A number of studies have highlighted the importance of friends and good relationships to health, Here are some of the findings:
- Socially engaged adults age more successfully. According to surveys of women over age 60, those who are socially engaged and visit with friends and family throughout the week are happier as they age.
- Friends can help you achieve your weight and fitness goals.
- Encouragement and sharing time together on a regular basis goes a long way to boosting your willpower.
- So far, this hasn’t proved true for me – unfortunately we do too much eating and cooking together.
- Happiness is catching. If you have a friend you consider to be happy, you are more likely to be happy and you are able to spread that happiness to the people around you. A study of 4,739 adults who participated in the Framingham Heart Study between 1983 and 2003 showed that people tend to cluster into happy or unhappy groups, and happiness appears to spread not just to those immediately inside the social group, but to their contacts as well. Having happy friends who live less than a mile away was an especially powerful predictor of happiness.
- Building a circle of friends makes you happy. People who see themselves as a leader in their social circle are happier than those who see themselves as outsiders — another reason why actively building relationships instead of waiting for the phone to ring is important. The girls of West Point High (pictured here) celebrated our birthdays with several hundred friends at The FloraBama. What a hoot.
- Friends lessen grief. A series of interviews with parents who lost a baby during pregnancy or immediately after birth showed that those who felt they were receiving social support from friends or family were better able to cope with their grief. The most welcome forms of support were simply being physically present, listening, and offering sympathy, encouragement, and practical help, such as making meals or funeral arrangements. In contrast, feeling socially alone tends to worsen grief.
- Being social boosts your immune system. Being socially engaged leads to more positive emotions, which in turn may actually boost your body’s immune system and reduce the physical signs of stress, say health experts.
The Friends You Choose Make a Difference
While it is possible for one happy person to spread happiness to their friends, the reverse is also true — a mildly or chronically depressed friend can bring you down as well. It helps to have a diverse group of friends to lessen this impact.