Our friendships immensely influenced our entire well-being and we might not be even aware of it. One of the many reasons we should celebrate with our besties on this special day is the health benefits we reap from them and vice versa, because friendship works both ways. So what are the positive effects of friends on our health?
1. Friendship is good for the heart.
According to the Journal of the National Medical Association, friendships, just like other types of social support groups, help alleviate a common cause of heart disease: stress.
Stress is known to trigger inflammation in the arteries, which leads to its clogged state, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. It was revealed in other studies that people who enjoy support from family and friends appeared to have lesser inflammatory chemicals found in their blood.
2. Good friendship helps us achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Good friends are good for our overall wellness. HealthDay cited a report from Current Opinion in Psychiatry in 2008 that stated where people are more likely to follow a healthy routine such as eating fruits and vegetables, getting more sleep, taking time to exercise on a regular basis, and quitting bad habits such as smoking if they have a support group of friends and family.
3. Long-lasting friendship means longer life.
That's right – friends have the power to extend lives. Amazing, isn't it? People who enjoy strong social relationships have a lower risk of dying early compared to those who isolate themselves.
Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a researcher and a psychologist at Brigham Young University in Utah, noted the importance of friendships to every individual's health, "I think we make a compelling case that social relationships should also be taken quite seriously in terms of reducing the risk of mortality."
According to a three-year Swedish study of more than 13,600 men and women as reported in HealthDay, having no friends heightened the chance of suffering from a first-time heart attack by 50 percent.
Similar results were found in a two-year study of over 500 women with suspected coronary artery disease. Compared to women who enjoy strong social relationships, it appeared that women having the lowest levels of social support were twice as likely to die in the course of the study. Aside from the greater likelihood of staying alive after two years, women who have a close support system are reported to have lower rates of diabetes and high blood pressure and are less likely to develop unwanted abdominal fat.
4. Friends add spice and meaning to our existence.
Studies showed that people with rich social life have an increased self-esteem, sense of belongingness, and purpose as friends help us see our essence and help us develop the best version of ourselves so we can serve others.
Moreover, friends are there to celebrate with us through the good times the same way they never fail to show support and stick by our side through hard times. As reported in an article by Live Science, a major research published in The Lancet in 1989 found that friendship helped women with breast cancer to keep going no matter how tough their battles were.
"As we encounter potentially stressful events in our lives, if we know that we've got people we can count on or that we can turn to, we may be less likely to even perceive it as stressful, because we know we can handle it," Live Science quoted Holt-Lunstad.
5. Our besties serve as our loneliness repellant.
Remember what Hellen Keller once said? "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."
There are times when we feel discouraged and disconnected from reality. Good thing we found our like-minded pals, our soul tribe who makes us feel like we are part of something bigger. These beautiful people provide us with a sense of contentment, comfort, identity, and peace of mind. They supply us with a loneliness antidote make us feel alive and connected like never before.
What are you waiting for? Pick up your phone, catch up with your friends, and ask them to a simple night out even. It doesn't have to be grand and fancy. It's each others’ presence that will make the day perfect. Your time is the best gift you could ever give. Make them feel loved and treasured. You can enjoy a fine chit-chat session over a cup of coffee or tea while remembering the good old memories you had, or grab a popcorn and binge-watch your favorite series. Whatever it is that sounds fun and exciting to you.
Valentine's Day is not just for lovebirds, it's also a day for us to celebrate the many loves we have and appreciate the lovely friendships that make our lives happier. It's the best time to say our thank you to those people who make the good times better and the tough times easier.