We all love having friends, and a few close, good friends are a special thing. Did you know that there are also health benefits involved with having friends? And when you are a friend to someone else, you are boosting his or her health. Here are some things to think about the next time you talk on the phone or hang out with your friends.
All You Need Is Love
Feeling loved and appreciated has a big impact on your emotional health. A friend provides that feeling of self-worth, connection, and affirmation. This reduces your need/desire to engage in unhealthy behavior, such as overeating.
Holding Each Other Accountable
It's a real friend who reminds you of your diet commitment when you are tempted to buy a dozen doughnuts. A good friend will also remind you that you promised to cut back on your alcohol consumption when you are craving another beer. Friends hold us accountable and will honestly tell us when we are out of line. Friends keep us from indulging in too much unhealthy behavior, in other words.
The Motivating Factor
Having a friend or group of friends can be a real motivator. Are you going to sign up for that belly dancing class by yourself? Are you going to sign up for a gym membership and go workout alone? Maybe you will, but the fact is that more people engage in healthy activities like exercise more when they are in social groups. Interestingly, a recent study in New England showed that people who exercised together lost more weight than those who exercised alone.
Even if you don't feel comfortable expressing your emotions, your limbic brain system is doing so. The limbic system is the captain of the emotions ship, so to speak. When you are around friends, the limbic system kicks in and attunes itself to your friends' limbic systems. You influence each other's moods and feelings without even knowing it. A positive, cheerful, and loving friend can lift your spirits when you don't even realize it.
It's In the Blood
Cardiovascular health is better in those who regularly socialize with friends. Like good diet and exercise, friends improve arterial elasticity and blood pressure.
Any Socializing Will Do
What if you don't have any close friends? What can you do if you have just moved to a new area and don't know anyone yet? Or maybe you just aren't inclined to forge friendships. Interestingly, it's been said that just being around people can help improve your mood and, consequently, your health. So, just going to a coffee shop or restaurant can help.
Now pick up the phone and get together with the guys or plan a girls' night out!