Why Your Friends Are More Important Than You Think
These last few years have been hard on friendships across the board. First, there’s the tricky territory to negotiate with friends who don’t hold the same beliefs as you, and that gap seems to be getting wider. Then there’s the problem of staying in touch during lockdowns. It’s been hard, that’s for sure.
So, is it worth the effort to stay in touch? Yes, definitely.
Friends are good for your physical health
Healthy relationships make you feel good emotionally, of course, but did you know they are also good for your body? Having a close circle of friends can decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Not only that, but people who don’t suffer from loneliness live longer.
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review
Friends reduce your stress level
According to Harvard Medical School, " Scientists are investigating the biological and behavioral factors that account for the health benefits of connecting with others. For example, they've found that it helps relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system. Another line of research suggests that caring behaviors trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones."
Harvard Medical School. The health benefits of strong relationships.
Friends lower your risk of dementia
Having a network of important relationships with social support can also make a difference. A large Swedish study of people ages 75 and over concluded that dementia risk was lowest in those with a variety of satisfying contacts with friends and relatives.
Hui-Xin Wang, Anita Karp, Bengt Winblad, Laura Fratiglioni. Late-Life Engagement in Social and Leisure Activities Is Associated with a Decreased Risk of Dementia: A Longitudinal Study from the Kungsholmen Project
How to bring light and love back into your friendships
- Be kind. As Wayne Dyer famously said, “If you have to choose between being right or being kind just choose kind.”
- Listen more than you talk. Everyone is yearning to be heard, so this is one of the best gifts you can give. “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” Zeno of Citium.
- Be open. "People think intimacy is sex. But intimacy is about Truth. When you realize that you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to him/her who you are, and their response is, "You are safe with me", that is intimacy. " Christiane Singer.
Time to strengthen your ties again
Pause, take a deep breath, then make a decision. Which of your friend relationships needs reviving today? It’s never too late.
Do a small thing but meaningful thing
- Post an old picture of the two of you on Instagram along with a story of one of the good times you had
- Find a new movie or song you know they’d love and send them a link with a message
- Take the time to write a message in a thinking of you card and send it off in the mail
- Send a Girlfriends book, and slip in a photo of the two of you with a heartfelt message of gratitude for the times you’ve had together
- Pick out a page from our Friendship book with the perfect quote (for example, “We may not speak or see each other for years, but the moment we’re reunited, I know I’m home.”) and add your own message, or love hearts, or silly cartoons.
Now choose the next friendship to bring back to life, rinse and repeat.