Friends have a big impact on your quality of life and happiness, and studies have shown that they can even reduce levels of stress, improve health, and even promote longevity. This is why it’s important to make space for friendships in your life, which can get more and more challenging as we grow older and change our lifestyles. There are many ways to strengthen existing friendships, as well as open yourself up to meeting new potential friends. The following is a guide to building healthy friendships.
Why is having friendships so important?
It may seem that romantic relationships are more beneficial to health and happiness, but study after study has proven that it is actually friendships that have a bigger impact on our quality of life. The benefits to our psychological well being include:
-Higher levels of happiness in general.
-Boosting physical health.
-A lack of friendships and social connections are just as damaging to our health as smoking, lack of exercise, and drinking.
-Having a strong network of friends, along with a good diet, can boost your lifespan.
-There are always opportunities to meet new people and expand your social circle.
-Friends can help you fight stress and depression symptoms.
-Friends can also be there to get you through challenging times.
–Social support is helpful for reaching goals, celebrating successes, or just to boost your motivation.
-The give and take nature of friendships encourages a greater sense of self-worth.
When we talk about friendships and their benefits, we are referring to the people that are there for us in real life. The people who show up when times get tough, or who celebrate alongside you. Having online friends can be a fun way to make connections, but it doesn’t take the place of real-life intimacy. Be sure to make time for nurturing face to face friendships and interactions.
How to create healthier friendships.
The first step toward building lasting friendships begins with knowing what to look for in a friend and fulfilling those characteristics yourself. A good friend is someone that is trustworthy, and that you can feel comfortable sharing intimate parts of your life with. Some things that quality friends do include:
-Showing a genuine interest in what’s going on in your life, and caring about what you feel and what you have to say.
-Accepting you for who you are, including your strengths and weaknesses.
-They do not judge or criticize you, try to control the way you think or feel, or try to change who you are.
-Share things about themselves, and are generous with their time and efforts.
All of these things constitute what a good friend should look like, so remember to embody these traits yourself when spending time with the people you care about. A healthy friendship should also feel good for the most part. If you answer yes to the following questions, then you do indeed have a good friendship (and are a good friend to others):
-Do I generally feel good after being around the person?
-Can I be myself when I’m with them?
-Do I feel comfortable with them? Or do I have to watch what I say and do?
-Does the person treat me respectfully and support me?
-Can I trust this person?
Try to embody these characteristics yourself when spending time with friends. You may have some areas that need work, and that’s ok. Bringing more awareness to your weaknesses and putting effort into improving them makes you a better person and friend.