According to psychology, one of the default modes of human nature is socializing. A theory holds that humans are driven by an inborn (and extremely intense) sense of belonging. Studies show that social isolation and loneliness are associated with many health problems, including hypertension, substance misuse, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

While friendships are a vital part of life, many struggle to locate, develop, and maintain them. Life events such as moving to a new neighborhood, beginning a career, or having a baby can distance us from our prior support network, making it more critical than ever to build new friendships. In other circumstances, shyness or a lack of social skills may prohibit us from initiating a friendship.

The approach to discovering these genuine connections is always consistent. It will necessitate taking a chance, trusting another person, and being truthful. It will require sacrifice and deliberate investment. It will demand you to give and give and give some more, as well as to transform into the very friend you crave. However, it will be well worth the time and effort you devote to it.

Friendships play a significant role in our lives. They can surely bewilder us, challenge us, and perhaps even cause us to question the very nature of relationships. However, friendships are as critical to our well-being as our health at the end of the day.

Friends are your support system

Cultivating genuine connections might be challenging for those who haven’t attempted it in a long time—perhaps since childhood. Men frequently face more significant difficulties than women, according to research. Women, on average, have more prominent, denser, and supportive friend networks than men. Additionally, women form friendships based on social and emotional support, whereas males form connections based on shared activities, including employment.

Quality is more important than quantity. While having a varied network of friends and acquaintances is beneficial, you may experience a stronger feeling of belonging and well-being by cultivating close, meaningful relationships that will support you through good and bad times.

One of the reasons women with strong female support are more successful is to seek guidance from their tribe. Women confront unique obstacles, such as unconscious bias, and having access to other women who have had similar experiences can assist you in navigating a challenging scenario. It’s similar to having a road map for your objectives.

Genuine friends speak openly. They generally do not hesitate to tell the truth, even if they believe you will not like it. This means even to your beginner cooking!

They continue to accept you for who you are – just as you accept them. You can rely on them to uphold your boundaries, even when you disagree.

Healthy friendships also include mutual support, which is why a true friend would not only expect you to assist them. Additionally, they will assist you whenever possible – even if all they can offer is a listening ear.

Keep in mind that although friendship can be a great source of support, it is not a substitute for professional mental health care. Talking to a mental health professional can help if you’re experiencing distress interfering with your daily activities.

Friends make us happier

In today’s increasingly isolated society, the gravitational pull of our connections can profoundly affect the quality of our lives. Friendships can fill the emotional void left by spouses or significant others.

Friendships can help us connect to more extensive social networks and enrich our lives. A buddy can be the emotional refuge that makes a significant difference.

Positive emotions appear to be critical in the development of successful relationships. This is not to say that negative emotions have no place, but striking the proper balance is vital. Emotional support from our relationships is crucial to our overall well-being, which is why friendship is viewed as such a powerful force of good in society.

We can share laugh-worthy moments and even try pranks on how to make two people call each other!

Friends promote cognitive health

Cognitive health is referred to as “being sharp” or “being in mind” and defines it as living to a ripe old age, being in good physical health, having a positive mental attitude, being alert, having a good memory, and being socially engaged.

More research is needed to determine why having an extensive social network protects cognition and reduces the incidence of dementia in older women.

Another study published in JAMA Network Open in August 2021 indicated that having good discussions may be part of safeguarding brain health. Results from the Framingham Heart Study showed that those who reported having a good listener in their lives were more likely to have better levels of cognitive resilience than those who didn’t (a measure of brain health known to protect against dementia and aging of the brain).

Friends push you to do better

Additionally, friends can exert a favorable influence. If you associate with people who are giving with their time, willing to help others, ambitious, or family-oriented, you increase your chances of developing those qualities yourself. 9

Great friends can shape you into your best self. They see you for who you indeed are and adore you for it. They motivate and inspire you to improve and become the person you aspire to be—your “ideal self.”

One explanation for those health benefits is that friendships can assist you in making lifestyle adjustments that directly boost your well-being. For instance, your friends can assist you in setting and maintaining objectives to improve your diet and physical activity.

They can also watch you and alert you if any unhealthy behaviors (such as binge drinking) grow out of hand.

Additionally, when people participate in a weight loss or exercise program with a friend, they are more motivated and likely to remain with it. It’s significantly easier to get out and keep active when accompanied by a friend.

Many of us find it easier to start healthy routines like jogging or dieting with a companion to motivate and assist us. A friend’s encouragement can make the difference between success and failure in your most recent endeavor to enhance your health.

This can also work in the opposite direction, as you may have guessed. It’s critical to surround yourself with individuals who share your commitment to healthy behaviors. Having just one person in your circle of friends initiate a positive or negative habit can have a ripple effect on the entire group. Make careful choices when it comes to your friends!