Friendship Lifts Your Heart
Monday, March 29, 2021
Whether you have one or two good friends or many friends in your circle, there is no denying that friendship is important in your life. You might be surprised to learn that not only do friends improve your quality of life; they might help you live longer too.
In a study of 503 women with symptoms of coronary artery disease at the study’s start, those with few personal contacts were more than twice as likely to die over the next two to four years as women with more social ties. In another study conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University, those who had a large network of friends outlived those with the fewest friends by 22%. And, a study at North Carolina's Duke University of 1,000 people with heart disease found that half those who were unmarried and had no one to confide in died within five years, while 85% of those who were unmarried but had a close friend survived.
The data proves the theory, but the question is – how? How can friendship lead to a longer life? It is believed that good friends discourage unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and heavy drinking. The companionship provided by friends may ward off depression, boost self-esteem and provide support. Also, as people age, they may become more selective in their choice of friends, so they spend more time with people they like.
Tips on being a good friend
· Go easy. You don’t have to spend hours a day connecting with friends. Just be sure to carve out time in your weekly schedule to check in, even if it’s by chatting on the phone or video visits.
· Don’t compete with your friends.
· Adopt a healthy, realistic self-image.
· Adopt a positive outlook.
· Take time to listen carefully to your friends; you may not be able to solve their problems, but you can let them know they are being heard.
· Don’t judge.
· Respect privacy – especially in the age that social media is so prevalent.
Tips on how to make new friends
We get it – in this day and age, with so many connecting virtually – it can be hard to make new friends. Maybe you’re an introvert who prefers to stay at home more than others. Maybe you’re worried that your attempts to make new friends won’t be successful. Here are a few ways you can add to your friendship circle:
· Volunteer at church, school, hospital or community organization. You’ll soon begin connecting with others who have the same values you do.
· Talk with the friends you do have – when they mention another person’s name, ask about him or her. See if your friend could arrange a brief outing with all three of you.
· Work on your fear (if you have one) of meeting new people. The chances an overture by you to get to know someone better will be welcomed is much higher than you might think.
· Be open-minded when you meet new people. Take the time to get to know someone before you decide he or she wouldn’t be good friend material.
· Use social media to connect with your “friends” – if it’s someone you trust and you would like to know better, message him or her about the possibility of grabbing a cup of coffee sometime. It could be the start of a lasting friendship.
By connecting more regularly with those who mean the most to you, you’ll find your heart – both your emotional and physical one – will be uplifted. And, you can help your friends be uplifted as well.
Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.