Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Importance of Friends

Last week, you may have heard the results of a recent study. A massive research project looked at the social life and physical health of 14,000 participants. It found that an active social life is as important to our health as diet or exercise. Having friends produces positive physiological effects that improve one's well-being and increase longevity.

In the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of North Carolina researchers found that the size and quality of a person’s social ties affect specific health measures, such as abdominal obesity and hypertension. This is true not only at specific periods of our lives but throughout our lives, from childhood to old age. For example, adolescents who are socially isolated face the same risk for developing inflammation as those who don’t exercise. Older adults are more at risk for developing hypertension from social isolation than from diabetes.

This finding makes sense to me. I personally benefit from my friendships in serious ways that counter the corrosive effects of my stressful job. It's one of the reasons I prioritize my friendships and devote real effort to them.

What do you think? Do you believe having friends helps you?

23 comments:

  1. Hey, that's me - and you! Ha, I love that picture - I was so excited to finally talk to you, one on one.

    My friends...well, first off, the toast I do for my friends is, "To the family I choose!" and that is so true, but you have to make an effort and plan events (I have been planning many events over the last couple of days) and nurture that friendship.

    Friends definitely help me. They don't define me the way family can (I'm the smart one!), and they accept me for who I am. I can be the real me around them, warts and all.

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    1. I agree. That's what I do -- turn my friends into family. The circumstance of birth needn't limit those to whom we are close. I chose this picture to illustrate the point of the post because I was equally excited to meet you in person and deepen our friendship.

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  2. I think you're definitely right about this! I was v lucky in my childhood and teen years. Mg work colleagues are friends now too which is lovely!

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  3. This is so true, friends are a great help and a great improvement to our life ! I believe in friendship very much :-) Kisses

    Fashion and Cookies - fashion blog

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    1. Thank you for being MY friend, Vale!!

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  4. I hope this isn't too true or I'm in trouble!
    At home a lot with kids. Not able to get out and socialise much.
    Close friends and family in other states or countries.
    But close friends with my hubby and chat online regularly with you all!
    Does that count?
    Xo Jazzy Jack

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    1. Of course it does. A big benefit of friends is the feeling of support they give us inside our hearts. They can do that from halfway around the world using electronic communication technology. I'll tell you that I've been lifted very critically during hard times by small tidbits of communication from my friend Ashley in Duluth that looked like mere messages on a computer-screen but meant so much more to me. Plus, in relation to your comment about your hubby, the project studied the intensity of close relationships as much as the breadth of our social circles.

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    2. I think that for introverts, the quality of the friendship matters more than the quantity of friends. I hardly get out and socialise at all but there are connections I have with people that are very special to me. You are one. I would live time and opportunity to spend getting to know you better and just hanging out, but it's amazing what we can get just from the internet. xoxo

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  5. I'm like Jazzy Jack in that all of my friends live far from where I live so I rely on the internet to bring online friendships into my day to day life. In fact if it weren't for the relationships I've gained from blogging I'm pretty sure I would have given it up years ago.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  6. I totally think friends are sooooo important! Friends are the family we choose :)
    Thanks a lot for your last comment : )
    Xx
    Larissa
    cenestquedelachance.blogspot.de

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  7. They make a big difference. If it weren't for mine being there for the last few months, I don't know what would be of me.

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  8. I ma so glad you brought this topic up Ally. It is vital to our health, in all ways. Especially necessary when you have s stressful job, like you describe. How do you think of online friendships? I think they can be beneficial too, but not as powerful as meeting face to face. I also know I feel wonderful after a good hour long phone call with a bestie. I agree with LARISSA, friends are the family we choose. How I value them!
    xx, Elle
    http://www.theellediaries.com/

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  9. It is so important to me to have good friends as I don't have any siblings, so having peers I can reach out to and lean on as well as have fun with is extremely beneficial. It's interesting too about the statistics of older folks and friends - we observed some vast differences in Nate's grandmothers, both are now 90 - the one in St. Louis remained active after her husband's passing, spent time with friends, socializing, playing cards, etc. She still lives on her own and is sharp as tack. The grandma who lives near us ended up shutting the world out after her husband's passing and her brain is pretty much mush. We need support beyond just family, no matter our age.

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  10. Friends are definitely important, but for those of us who only have a few or less, it's actually even more detrimental to our lives than general good vibes. Decent jobs ask you for several references. There's an expectation that you can borrow, ask for favors or assistance, that you have people who are contacts and 'put in a good word'.

    I've also learned it is much harder to make friends as an adult. But the friends you do make are often much better quality friends than you make in school or other situations you're forced into. Even if they are fewer in number.

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  11. As a psychotherapist, I completely agree. I don't believe quantity is as important as quality (as in so many things). As a general introvert I have only a small circle of intimate friends and a larger circle of people I really enjoy. Life is better for knowing them. xox

    Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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  12. I definitely believe friends make life better!

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  13. Yes I do believe this. I have always had a pretty good circle of friends and people to meet up with. Having people just to talk to lowers stress which in turn improves health.

    Allie of ALLIENYC
    www.allienyc.com

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  14. I definitely believe people who cross your path in life can be friends. Really good friends who will help you no matter what are hard to come by, so when you do, keep them! I have wonderfully close friends who are pretty much family to me.
    FT Kitchen

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  15. Friends are so important to me and yet I struggle constantly with the feeling that I am not a good enough friend. I cannot be and do everything I would want to for every person I consider a friend. I try to just offer genuine affection and emotional support, to just let my friends know I am on their side. I am not the friend you turn to for fun and games, but I am definitely one who will always be on your side. xoxo

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  16. My life has been so enriched by friendship. In fact one of my personal goals this year is to really nuture my friendships. Last year that seemed to fall by the wayside and I miss it. But just this afternoon, an old friend rang who I hadn't spoken to in 6 months - busy lives, long distances - and we gassed for about an hour, taking up where we had left off. We've planned to meet up next month so at least one of my goals is on a roll!

    http://petitesilvervixen.blogspot.co.uk/

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  17. I count my friendships as one of the most precious things in my life. I spent the day today with my "scrapbook girls" ... There are three very special friendships and we share a very special hobby!!!

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  18. Massively so. We're social creatures by nature who typically benefit in myriad ways from healthy interactions with others (and I say that as an epic shy and immensely introverted person :)), so these findings don't surprise me much at all. I wonder though (having not read the study and if it looked at this point or not) how similar the findings would be if the study focused on peoples' online friendships (again, I'm assuming it was centered around real world ones). The bulk of my friends are online ones and I personally feel that they enrich, better, and bring joy to my life as much as much as most offline ones I've had (and presently have) over the years.

    ♥ Jessica

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  19. YES. And I love that your prioritize your friendships as much as you do. And that you continue the friendship OFFLINE (which I had the esteemed privilege of discussing with you in person!) because I think the computer creates a barrier between us.

    Interesting regarding the actual health findings; I'm not terribly surprised but that's still an alarming study!

    XOXO

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