The Benefits of Friends – Between Us – Al-Ahram Weekly

Friends play an important role in enriching your life in addition to promoting your overall health. Good friends make life easier and happier. They celebrate you when you’re happy and boost you when you’re sad. Strong, supportive relationships are just as important to your health as diet and exercise. Their influence is greater than you think.

Scientists are constantly discovering the impact of strong friendships on health and well-being. In fact, studies show that strong friendships come with a number of surprising physical, emotional, and mental health benefits.

Spending time with good friends can lower blood pressure, increase happiness and reduce stress, prevent loneliness, improve self-confidence and self-esteem, and even prevent breast cancer in women, among other things. . Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Additionally, studies have shown that older people with rich social lives are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

Here are some ways best friends can improve women’s health:

Stress reduction:

Women feel better and handle stress differently when other women are around. In a series of studies conducted at the University of Virginia in the United States, people faced the threat of receiving an electric shock, either solo or while holding a friend’s hand. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans revealed that in those who clung to a friend, brain regions that perceive danger were significantly less active.

Improving willpower:

The effects of looking at or even thinking of someone with strong self-control are strong, and it works quickly because it increases the amount of willpower you think.

Avoid breast cancer:

A study of a group of women in Chicago in the United States diagnosed with breast cancer found that the release of cortisol due to the stress of social isolation contributed to the growth of tumor cells. In other words, the loneliness literally accelerated their cancer.

Prevent overspending:

You are more likely to take significant financial risks when you feel alone or rejected. Close friendships keep you balanced.

Protective mood:

Friends may have powers similar to Prozac. A British study found that people with depression doubled their chances of bouncing back if they had friends who were in a good mood. Another study found that women who have 10 or more friends to socialize with experience better psychological well-being in their 40s than those who have fewer.

Lowering of blood pressure:

A study published in the American journal Psychology and aging showed a correlation between chronic feelings of loneliness and increased blood pressure. It found that the most solitary participants had a 14-point increase in blood pressure compared to the most social. Coping with feelings of loneliness and fostering a sense of connection could help slow the progression of increased blood pressure.

Coping with trauma:

There is no doubt that having a hand to hold during the darkest times of your life can help. In fact, a study has shown that having a friend around during difficult events such as a divorce, serious illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one can significantly lessen the negativity of your life. experience and increase self-confidence.

Make exercise enjoyable:

Your friends can make fitness more fun. A number of studies have shown that exercising with a friend can encourage you to train harder and more frequently, both through inspiration and competition.

Help you live longer:

People who have strong social connections are less likely to die prematurely. In fact, having good friends is twice as effective as exercising and quitting smoking when it comes to extending life. A landmark Australian study of older people over the course of 10 years found that those with strong friendships were 22% less likely to die prematurely.

*A version of this article appeared in the May 26, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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Richard V. Johnson