Throughout history, humans have learned the importance of cultivating friendships with others. Having friends who positively influence us is powerful and can be life-changing. More than just having fun with them, friends can also help us become physically healthier and more emotionally stable.
Friendships can have a positive impact on our mental health. Studies revealed that developing close friendships as teens can decrease the possibility of developing depression or anxiety later in life. Furthermore, friendships among older adults are linked to higher later-life satisfaction.
Here are some of the reasons behind the importance of friendships on our mental health:
Develops a Sense of Belonging
Having friends can help us feel that we belong in the community. The sense of belonging is a basic human need. As social beings, we all want to be accepted or part of a group. This emotional requirement has been part of our evolution as a race, as belonging to a group used to be essential for survival.
We bond with other people who share similar traits, hobbies, goals, or passions, as they are the people who could understand us the most.
Studies show that people who have a sense of belonging decrease their chances of being diagnosed with depression and having feelings of hopelessness.
Helps in Dealing with Traumatic Events
Going through complex life events such as divorce, serious illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one is tough, and having a friend by our side can help us cope. As our friends know and understand what we are going through, they quickly become our support system. Good friends help us see life from a different perspective and offer great advice that can enable us to get through tough times.
Friends can also help us bounce back from these traumatic events more easily. According to research, lonely people find it more challenging to become resilient and overcome adversities. Therefore, social support is essential whenever we go through traumatic events in life.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Friends are the people we can have a good laugh with for hours on end, which truly gives meaning to the saying, ‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ Spending some quality time with friends can significantly reduce stress and anxiety, boosting our mood and making us feel more optimistic.
Aside from laughing at our funny stories and mishaps together, some friends share the same hobbies. It could be as simple as watching your favorite TV series or going on a camping trip. Doing things we enjoy can make us feel happier and less stressed.
Improves Self-Worth and Confidence
Good friends are like our very own cheerleading squad. They support and motivate us to do our best while also celebrating our successes. They help bring out the best in us. Knowing that we are loved and appreciated gives our self-confidence a healthy boost.
Having positive friendships with others can make us feel accepted, which helps lift our morale. We take pride in our relationships which helps increase our self-esteem.
Encourages Healthy Behaviors
There is a reason why some of us love going to group classes, such as fitness classes. Psychologists say that friends can positively impact our behavior, especially those who make healthy choices. They can motivate us to make similar healthy lifestyle changes. Good friends can also help indicate problematic behavior and allow us to change or improve our lifestyle.
Going through life without having people we trust and care for, who also care for us, can be difficult.
However, keep in mind that not all friendships are created equally. Some relationships can be toxic and eventually hurt you. Therefore, you need to evaluate the type of relationship you have with people you call friends.
On the other hand, true friends are rare gems that are difficult to find. Some of us are lucky to find them early on, while others take almost their entire lives to find friends that make them feel loved and accepted. Once you have found people like this, they are the ones that make your life more beautiful and precious.