The Power of Friendship

Friends are good for your health. According to Harvard Health Publications, “social connections help relieve harmful levels of stress, which can harm the heart’s arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system.”

In addition to improving or maintaining your health, good friends can also have positive effects on your sense of wellbeing. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during difficult times. They provide companionship, happiness and comfort and help combat feelings of loneliness.

According to the Mayo Clinic and AARP, good friends:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose.
  • Boost your happiness. Friends who make you happy can provide a big boost to your mood.
  • Reduce your stress. Being around those who care about you, who listen to you when you talk about your feelings and concerns, can help relieve stress.
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth, and make you feel loved and needed.
  • Help you cope with challenging times, such as divorce, illness, unemployment or the death of a loved one.
  • Encourage you to stop unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, excessive drinking or lack of exercise.
  • Prevent isolation, which is a contributing factor in depression.

It’s important to stay active and connected to other people. It's good to cultivate a diverse group of friends and acquaintances, keeping in mind there are a wide variety of types of friendships. If you are lucky enough, you may have lifelong friends, along with friends who share only an interest or activity, and even friends who are in your life for a brief time, just when you need them the most.

When it comes to friendships, who you select as your friends is very important. Look for friends who make you feel good about yourself, who bring out the best in you. Remember, good friends should build us up and take us forward in life!

If you are looking for new friendships and socialization opportunities, consider volunteering, taking a class, traveling with a group, getting involved in a worship community or even working part-time. If you have lost track of old acquaintances, it’s never too late to get back in touch to try to rekindle that friendship.

Keep in mind that you may meet new friends in unexpected places. Always be open to interesting conversations and opportunities to gather with others. Long-lasting friendships can form at any time. Don’t be shy about extending your friendship by offering to meet a new acquaintance out for coffee or tea, or by setting up a walk in the park for a small group of new friends. Friendships take time and effort, but they are worth it!

Celebrate International Day of Friendship on July 30, 2017. The United Nations states that “through friendship — by accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust — we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability, weave a safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where all are united for the greater good.”