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Connecting with Friends and our Health & Wellbeing

How important is it to have friends? Can friends have an impact on your health and wellbeing?

I think it does.

Even though we live in a society whereby we are increasingly becoming independent and living alone, we are inherently social creatures.

If you go back to the stone ages, the human race survived because we stuck together and worked in groups. This quality of togetherness has stayed with us as we evolved and whilst we might write it off in the current age, I can’t help but think it must make us feel lonely and unhappy.

I, for one know that feeling lonely is not a nice feeling. It’s always nice to meet up with friends atleast once a week and it re-energises me. I am an introvert and I do like spending most of my time alone but meeting up with friends now and then always makes me happy.

So why do most of us not meet up with friends as often as we should if it makes us happy?

For me, it was to do with work and life in general. I’m sure it’s the case with others as well.

Growing up, I made several friends while at school, while at university, while at work and slowly lost touch with a few of these as I got busy with work.

We live in a pressured environment whereby you are expected to graduate by a certain age, get a job by a certain age, get married by a certain age and even have children by a certain age.

All these pressures added together mean that one’s priorities shift and more time is spent either working or dating. Spending more time on one area of your life means that you have less time to spend on another area of your life, and naturally for me, it meant that I had less time to spend with my friends.

However, since lockdown was lifted, I have started connecting with all my friends and whilst it may be awkward as we haven’t seen each other in ages and there’s a lot to catch up on, it certainly feels good.

Why have I made more of an effort to connect with my friends? Does it have an impact on our social wellbeing and health?

Below are my reasons as to why I feel having more friends can help you.

  1.  Loneliness

Whilst I may have succeeded in my work life, looking back, my circle of friends has diminished. I tend to keep myself busy over weekends with various activities but sometimes I wish that I had more friends to hang out. Being alone is not a nice feeling. I would much rather be out there having fun with a bunch of friends.

2. Stress

Whenever I catch up with some of my close friends that I confide in, talking to them about what’s going on in my life always helps reduce stress. Regardless of whether they are able to fix the problem or not, just talking about it helps with stress and anxiety.

3. Helpful advice

Having friends is great because sometimes you need that raw and real advice. If a friend truly cares about you, they will tell you something as it is and give you the right advice. This will ensure that you take the right steps in dealing with any situation.

4. Emotional support and growth

We don’t choose our family but we choose our friends. It is likely that the friends you choose are similar to you, have similar goals, a similar lifestyle and interests.

Your family may not necessarily understand you and they may not even truly know you despite spending a large chunk of your life with them. However, your friends may understand you better than anyone else and provide you with that emotional support and encouragement that you need to help you get through life and achieve your goals.

5. New experiences

Having friends always makes trying new experiences more fun. Travelling, learning skills or any other experience is more fun with friends and you are likely to make many more memories this way rather than going solo.

6. Learning new things

We all experience life in different ways and do different things in our lives. Having multiple friends means that you’ll be exposed to different areas of life which you normally wouldn’t on your own. This can help make you more knowledgeable and open-minded.

7. Improving your lifestyle

If you want to make your life better, form better habits, think better, it always helps to do this with friends or have friends who can keep you accountable.

Having friends work out with you can give you more motivation to go to the gym or having friends join you at that book club can ensure you read those books.

8. A support network

Knowing that someone’s got your back if ever you get into trouble or need help can make a big difference to your happiness.

Having friends creates a sense of belonging which is similar to the quality that I mentioned earlier about moving together in a tribe and working together to survive.

We may think we don’t need this support network, but I believe that inherently as humans, we definitely need this support bubble.

I, for one, will continue connecting with my old friends and making new ones and I hope this post was helpful to you. If you are feeling lonely or unhappy, maybe the first step you should take is to reach out to that old friend or join a class and make new friends.

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