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Maintaining a Long-Term Friendship Is Good for Your Health, Study Finds

Maintaining a Long-Term Friendship Is Good for Your Health, Study Finds

“If you’re ever in a jam, here I am
If you’re ever in a mess, S-O-S
If you ever feel so happy, you land in jail… I’m your bail.
It’s friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship.
When other friendships have been forgot,
Ours will still be hot.
Lah-dle-ah-dle-ah-dle dig, dig, dig.”

Whenever I think of friendship I think of that Kay Kyser song. It’s happy-making—even just like the thought of friendship itself. I like to imagine a good friend who laughs at your jokes, tells you when there’s spinach in your teeth and who wants the best for you.

“One loyal friend is worth ten-thousand relatives.”

—Euripides

We all know that friendship can make the carnival that is life way more enjoyable. I mean, who wants to go to a carnival alone anyway? Friends make the party worthwhile. Without friends, this party’s a bust. But did you also know that, in addition to the good times and memory making, having friends can also improve your health? Yep. There’s even research to back it up!

What the Experts Discovered

In a recent finding, The National Academy of Sciences states that if we isolate ourselves and remain antisocial we could be harming ourselves.

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“Social isolation increased the risk of inflammation by the same magnitude as physical inactivity in adolescence, and the effect of social isolation on hypertension exceeded that of clinical risk factors such as diabetes in old age.”

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, did a study based on previous research, proving that seniors have a longer lifespan if they have more social connections.

According to the Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina, “The effect of social isolation on hypertension risk exceeded the effect of diabetes, a well known risk factor for hypertension at older ages. The associations of social integration with overall obesity are significant in both early and late life and higher social support was associated with lower odds of abdominal and overall obesity in young to mid adulthood.”

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Size Matters

A bunch of folks got together to study the impact of friendship at different stages of our lives. The data came from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to capture adolescence and young adulthood, the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) for middle adulthood, and both the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) for late adulthood. As it turns out, we need different things, at different stages.

Kathleen Mullan Harris, James Haar Distinguished Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill found that in early and late adulthood, size matters. Both in the early stages of life and the later, it’s important to have a large social network. But when it comes to that area in the middle, “middle adulthood,” it’s not so much about quantity, it’s more about quality. In regards to mid-life, Science Daily notes, “it’s not the number of social connections that matter, but what those connections provide in terms of social support or strain.”

Science also tells us that people who isolate, have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and a compromised immune response to viral infections.

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Maybe now would be a good time to check out some Meetups, enroll in an art class, make new friends. Who knows? Maybe you’ll click with someone new and that new friend will be with you through thick and thin. It might also be a good time to call up that old pal and plan that lunch. You could be mutual lifesavers.

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

—Linda Grayson

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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