We know that friends make you feel better, but how? Let's define some of the ways your health benefits when you have solid friendships in your life.
Stress can cause all kind of physical problems in our bodies, and if you surround yourself with the wrong kind of people, they can add to it. You can even create a way of life centered around stress, called Episodic Acute Stress. This type works to create a "life of relative chaos" all the time. You've probably seen this in friends who are difficult to be around, who make it all about them, or who are just too forgetful and wrapped up in themselves to be a good friend. The affects of stress over time can harm your body, and increase your risk of everything from depression and heart disease to obesity and diabetes.
Good friends, however, help protect you from these harmful physical effects. Your body will deal with the ups and downs of life better with friends in place to support you and give you an emotional lift when you need it.
Developing Healthy Habits
If you're not currently someone who works out or eats right, your friends can influence you to make positive health changes in your life. Going out with the girls, for example, may mean you see their healthy choices at lunch and do the same. A night out with the guys may involve basketball or running rather than sitting in front of the TV.
According to the Mayo Clinic, friends can "Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise." We often think of friends as a group that we have fun with, but a good time can also mean improving your world in some way. This is especially true when you surround yourself with a mature group of people who want you to live a long and healthy life.
Getting Over Disease More Quickly
If you do get sick or need surgery, friends can help you rebound more quickly. A Harvard study shared on Oprah.com underscored this point by stating that "research has shown that breast cancer patients with no friendship network are four times more likely to die from the disease than those with ten or more close friends." While this study focused on a number of friends, you should know that any contact at all can have far-reaching benefits.
Good friends, no matter how many you have, will help lessen the emotional burden of a life-threatening disease. In other words, if you're currently without friends, focus on developing a genuine bond with at least one person, rather than trying to get a number of acquaintances in your life instead.
Not only can friends help you ward off disease, they can encourage you to get treatment faster during early signs of illness. Readers Digest says that "friends can persuade you that symptoms, such as fatigue, weight loss, or less accurate hearing or sight, warrant a checkup." When one friend hears another one complain about their body or a pain they are experiencing, chances are they will encourage them to get it checked it.
The same is true if a friend notices something unusual about a friend's health that their friend hasn't even realized. They can point it out and encourage their pal to seek treatment. This concept applies to physical ailments (growths or moles, for example), addiction, or emotional issues.
Friends don't just want us to be healthy, they want us to be around a long time. If you're currently lacking some friends in your life, make a point now to get involved with some new activities. Before long you'll not only feel better emotionally having supportive people in your life, but your health may improve as well.