Friendships: How They Enhance Your Life & Improve Your Health
“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend” – Albert Camus
Friendship – It is a concept that isn’t born out of necessity but out of love, trust, and respect. From the day we step into a playground to the day we achieve a milestone in our lives, we are supported and loved by our friends. I had read in a report once that if a friendship lasts for more than seven years, it will last for a lifetime.
But lately, friendships have become rare. People now choose social isolation over the company of others. And social isolation, these days, is dangerous for your mental and emotional health. Friends help us celebrate our achievements but they also help us get through difficult times. They offer a supportive shoulder when we need to de-stress and feel happy.
One of the many research done on the importance of having social and psychological effects of friendship states that having friends in our lives helps us lower our stress levels, increase our life span, and promote happiness. Sadly, some friendships can become conflicting over time, and instead of helping all they do is hinder your health and wellness.
In this blog, I’ll help you navigate the benefits you can avail of having an understanding and good friend and how to maintain a healthy friendship.
Benefits Of Having A Healthy Friendship
Friends come and go and while many of them stay to become our true and best friends many can become toxic and might not all be that important in your life. A good and true friend will communicate with you openly and honestly. They don’t shy away from telling you off and they tend to be blunt. But most importantly – they accept you for who you are and vice versa.
Good friends become best friends when they earn your trust and when they respect you and your boundaries – even if you argue with each other once in a while. A healthy friendship is when there is mutual support and respect from either side.
Here are some tips on how a good and healthy friendship can benefit you and help you heal:
1. Lesser Social Isolation
Prolonged social isolation can turn into loneliness and that can severely harm your mental, emotional, and physical health. Loneliness can be felt even if you’re surrounded by people you love and care about. Having a good friend in a healthy friendship can help prevent the feeling of being lonely.
There are always things, worries, and concerns that you just can’t share with anybody, even your family but with a friend, all bets are off, right? Even if you can’t hang out with your friends, you can call them or text them to know that with your connection, you can’t feel alone.
2. Lower Stress Levels
Stress is something that we can’t seem to avoid this year but no matter how small or big that stress is, it can still manage to make us feel overwhelmed. Stress can cause us to feel depressed, anxious, irritable, and can even contribute to our physical health.
With a friend, you can voice your concerns and worry, or just vent about your situation until you feel better. Talking with friends can help you brainstorm solutions to your problems and can even help you understand your stressors.
For me, talking to my friends does help me feel better and less stressed. It even helps me understand what my triggers are!
3. More Emotional Support
Emotional support in any relationship is important. In a friendship, emotional support can come in the form of:
- Listening to the problems, not just hearing them
- Understanding feelings and emotions
- Being nice and kind to each other, without any reason
- Providing distraction when one of you feel upset or sad
Having friendships other than romantic relationships is essential because when you or your partner fail to understand each other or disagree with each other, you can always count on your friends to help you understand the depth of your feelings and of yourself.
4. Personality Development
Friendships are a big part of your personality. What kind of company you keep or choose to add to your family is how you are looked at. Having a healthy friendship can help you build confidence in your skills and talents while keeping in mind that you don’t overdo anything. Caring about others also makes you more responsible and resilient while simultaneously increasing your compassion and empathy towards others and yourself.
5. Support In Difficult Times
Support is always needed when life seems to go down a spiral. In case of events such as divorce, loss of a loved one, unemployment, unsupportive family, or even during a pandemic, friends are the ones who help us keep a brave front and support us when we truly need it. These challenges can really affect our mental and emotional wellbeing but with the support of our trusted friends, we can navigate our way through those situations without losing much of ourselves behind.
6. Increase Positivity
Our friends are our biggest, and sometimes, our meanest cheerleaders but they are the only ones who truly know us – good and bad. They can be brutally honest but only because they want us to be our best. They encourage us to be our best and never let us think low of ourselves.
How To Maintain A Good Friendship
To keep and maintain a good and healthy friendship, you can do the following:
- Carve some time out to connect with them.
- Set some boundaries and respect them.
- Maintain an honest and open communication line with them.
- Listen to their criticism and be open to new suggestions.
- Call them out if they are wrong and hold them accountable for their actions.
- Be a part of their life – not just the celebrations.
- Give them some room to breathe once in a while.
- Avoiding conflicts and arguments is not
- Resolve conflicts by staying emotionally mature. Emotional manipulation and blackmail aren’t healthy.
- Be positive and inspire them constantly.
Last but not least, learn when to let go. Toxic friendships can hold you back from growing into an emotionally mature person. Unhealthy and toxic friendships can cause stress and pain. If a friend of yours is treating you unkindly and is being manipulative then you need to end that relationship.
True and best friends are hard to find. There are struggles and challenges you have to face before you find that friend whom you could trust and earn their trust and respect in return.
But no matter what, a healthy friendship can definitely help you heal, grow, and become a better and the best version of yourself. People grow and change and if a friend of yours isn’t helping your emotional and mental health, then you need to give them space or let go of them. Staying with them just for the sake of it can be threatening to your overall wellbeing.
With some tried and trusted friendships, you learn how to be strong in the face of adversity and how to be confident in yourself. All friendships are based on feelings like trust, respect, support, forgiveness, and more importantly – love.
Some things never change no matter how much time has passed. And true friendships are that.
“Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.” – Thomas J. Watson