The importance of friendship cannot be overstated. Having strong relationships with others (aka: friends) is vital to maintaining good health. In fact, according to health researchers, friends are good for your health because they:
- Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
- Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
- Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
- Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
- Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
As if those findings aren’t enough to highlight the importance of friendships, research further finds that adults who develop strong friendships have a lower risk of health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and obesity. Studies have even found that older adults who maintain healthy relationships with others are more likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
The Importance of Friendship During Good and Bad Times
While friends certainly provide many benefits, your relationship can’t be a one-way street. So if you want friends to help you during the bad times, then you need to make and keep friends during the good times.
A good way to think about how well you are currently nurturing your relationships with your friends is to use the metaphor of the “emotional bank account” (EBA for short). To begin, think of just one friend in particular. Now go back over the past several months and try to answer this question: “How many deposits have I made in my EBA with that person?”
If you can say that you’ve been making regular deposits, then you’re doing what you need to do. But if you haven’t been making many deposits recently, or worse, if you’ve made a number of withdrawals (in the form of selfishness or insensitivity), then you probably have some work to do.
Strong friendships are an investment in your future well-being. Therefore, don’t take any of your friends for granted. Nurture your relationships so they can prosper and grow, enabling both of you to reap the many rewards of a strong relationship.
What is your take on the importance of friendship? How do you nurture your relationships with others? Please share your comments on the Without Stress Facebook page.