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The Psychological Benefits of Friendship

Friends. They're more than someone to hang out with!

A friend is someone to trust and confide in, someone who can make you laugh, but also someone who is there when you need a shoulder to cry on. Most of us are aware of some of the positive impacts that good friendships can have on our lives, but friendship affects us in more ways than we realize.

Friends can help us to learn more about ourselves, inspire us to do better and be better, and even improve our careers, Psychology Today notes. But that’s not all, Good Housekeeping reports that friends are able to lower stress levels, they can motivate us to engage in positive behaviors (for example, it’s great to have a workout buddy), and they can help improve our mental and physical health.

“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina told the New York Times. But it should be because she feels that “friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.” The good news is that friendship, and its effect on overall health, has been the subject of several studies over the years, including Harvard Health research, which, according to the New York Times, has indicated that strong social bonds could assist brain health as we age.

Other studies have looked at the impact that friendship has on older individuals, and how those with many friends were “22 percent less likely to die during the study period." Alternatively, we know that struggling to maintain strong social ties can increase the risk of developing mental disorders, like anxiety or depression. Jenna Glover, Ph.D. told Good Housekeeping that one of the “key treatment components for depression is helping individuals expand their social network and increase the amount of time they are spending with friends."

Just a few more good reasons to be celebrating the people who continue to enrich your life!

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