By Sydni Ellis
Write your best friend a thank-you note, make her a friendship bracelet, or buy her a much-deserved glass of wine because her existence actually has tons of health benefits for you. Sure, you already know she makes you laugh. And, yes, she is your go-to person when you are feeling down. But did you know that strong, supportive, positive friendships have numerous health benefits? For women and men, friendships are super important to our overall well-being, so much so that you will want to schedule a hangout or happy hour ASAP to get another hit of those good vibes. Discover a few ways friendships improve your health.
Friendships Increase Serotonin and Oxytocin
It turns out there is a scientific reason you feel so light after an hour-long catch-up with a girlfriend or having a game night with friends. Research shows that hanging out with friends can increase the production of the “feel-good” hormones serotonin and oxytocin, according to Healthline.
Women Have a Calming Effect on Other Women
Your female friends can have a calming effect on you biologically. Studies indicate that women release oxytocin and adrenaline during times of stress, which is a biological response that makes us want to protect our kids and connect with other women. When we turn to girlfriends for support, it can trigger even more oxytocin to help us feel calmer and safer and want to develop even deeper friendships. This effect is not the same in men who typically deal with stress better alone.
Social Connections Lead to Longer Lives
Since good friends will encourage you to be healthier — like giving up smoking or starting to exercise, the Mayo Clinic says adults with close friends have a reduced risk of depression, high blood pressure, an unhealthy BMI and are more likely to live longer. So, if you are debating whether to re-watch The Office (again) or meet up with a friend, just know that only the latter can help you live longer.
Friends Just Make You Happier
Happiness knows no bounds when it comes to friendships. Having close friends increases your sense of belonging and purpose, boosts your happiness, improves your self-confidence and self-worth, helps you cope with traumas, and helps prevent loneliness, according to the Mayo Clinic. How can you beat that?
More Laughter Equals More Happiness
Good friends know how to make you laugh. Laughter increases your oxygen levels, stimulating your heart, lungs, and muscles, as well as the endorphins in your brain. It also helps relieve stress by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, and it can soothe tensions in your muscles. In the long-term, people who laugh more and are generally positive tend to have better immune systems, less pain, more personal satisfaction, and overall better moods.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have learned to appreciate social connections more than ever. Make your friends a priority — virtually or in-person — and your health and happiness will be better for it.