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Three Proven Health Benefits of Friendships (Backed by Science)

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Human connection is integral to your well-being and when you’re in a healthy relationship with family, friends, or acquaintances, there are very real health benefits you can experience for yourself. 

We know that when you love more (one of our 8 Pillars), you live a more nutritious life so here are three science-based facts about the health benefits of friendships that you don’t want to miss.

1. Friendships Can Boost Immunity & Lifespan

According to a study from the American Psychological Association (APA), strong support from your social connections may protect you from illnesses caused by stress.

How is this possible?

Activities that strengthen close connections — like fun or meaningful chit-chats, laughing, kissing, hugging, and bonding with friends — releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. These hormones positively impact your mind, mood, and body. They also improve immune function as they lower cortisol levels (AKA stress-induced hormones).

Maintaining healthy friendships is beneficial for your health in long-term ways, too. As you find peace, calm, and genuine happiness with friends, the release of the feel-good hormones mentioned above decrease inflammation. This leads to lower risks of illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, gut-health problems, cancer, and depression.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, one study shows an increase in mortality risk for people who do not have strong relationships leading to premature deaths from all causes by 50%.

TLDR: Having friends may actually tack more years onto your life!

2. Friendships Enrich Your Emotional Well-Being

Having friends or *friends* (if you catch our drift) to offer you a safe space for raw conversation or a shoulder to cry on is an essential resource when dealing with life’s many challenges.

This emotional support fosters trust and a sense of belongingness between friends. 

The desire to feel accepted and valued is innate, rooting from the time of conception between mother and child. Longing for attention and attachment with another human being goes on across the lifespan giving a sense of purpose and a more positive outlook about life and relationships according to Psychology Today.

So keep in mind that creating time to be with a girlfriend or maybe sending a quick text message to check in can play a massive role in building a supportive relationship. 

And guess what? It’s a two-way street! A recent study shows that your availability to listen and provide support to a friend can boost your health. Talk about a mutual benefit!

RELATED: 5 Ways To Build Stronger Friendships

3. Strong Friendships Can Improve Your Self-Esteem

The Cambridge Dictionary defines self-esteem as “belief and confidence in your own ability and value.” It is your perception of yourself — whether it be negative or positive.

How does friendship influence the way you view yourself?

In a meta-analysis published by the APA, researchers explored how positive relationships boost self-esteem. They found that strong and healthy social relationships mold the development of self-esteem in people ages 4-76.

On the other hand, poor relationships can negatively reinforce your self-esteem. An unhealthy  self-perception can accumulate from childhood and may continue through adulthood.

The good news? You can always start building stronger friendships — a relationship that will help you develop self-love and empathy for yourself and others.    

And if you ever find yourself thinking of that one friend who naturally brings out the best in you, that friend who nourishes your soul, then that means you found the one. He or she’s a keeper!

The healthy choices you make daily, and the small habits you form are just as crucial as choosing friends and people you let into your life. Evaluate and look at them closely—do they make you feel good or stressed out? That should give you a hint. Remember, healthy relationships are one of the keys to living a Nutritious Life. 

Read this and plan ahead with your besties this coming World Friendship Day:

Celebrate International Friendship Day the Nutritious Life Way 

For more tips on how to build happy and strong relationships plus a fulfilling sex life (yes, please!), check out our LOVE MORE top stories here.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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