How Your Best Friend is Improving Your Health

Since our first steps on the playground, friendships have been a major part of our lives. Whether you met them twenty years ago or a month ago, your best friends are the people who know you best and share some of your greatest memories. Take a minute to think about your best friend (or best friends if you’re lucky - we’re definitely jealous of that Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants bond). You know who they are. The people you snapchat your triple-chin selfies to; the person you text or call frantically when you’re in crisis mode; the person you can spend hours doing literally nothing with. They’re great right? Well, that vital relationship is actually improving your health.

Shasta Nelson, author of Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness, writes that, “deep friendships are where we get to be the most vulnerable, where we get to practice being the best versions of ourselves, and sometimes even the worst versions.”  Your bestie is someone you lean on, the person you call first (okay, probably after your mom) when anything big happens, the person you can have a conversation with through facial expressions. Even if you think you can’t possibly love them more, check out how they’re helping your mental and physical health!  

They Make You More Optimistic

We’ve all called our best friend in a panic over the state of our lives: “I’m in the wrong program"; “I failed that test”; “I’m going to be alone forever”; “I’m not okay”. Yet, no matter what is going on in our lives, hearing their voice and comforting words makes everything seem just a little better.

In a study conducted at the University of Virginia, participants were asked to look at a steep hill and those who had a close friend with them registered that the hill looked less steep and wouldn’t be as difficult to climb. The study states that profound social interactions help to make us more optimistic by reducing our reactivity to stress, allowing us to look at things with a more positive perspective.  

Our besties aren’t always there beside us to climb every hill, but they make us more optimistic about the challenges in our lives. Plus, when you’re breaking down about being forever alone, at least you know you’ll always have them.

They Help You Fight Mental Illness

Not only do your closest pals help reduce stress, they also help you reduce the risk of mental illness now and as you get older.

Anxiety is now one of the most prevalent forms of mental stress in young adults today. However, a study conducted by Dr. James Coen shows that anxiety levels decrease drastically when you're in the presence of a close friend or confidante. Coen concluded that close friendships and bonds are a vital aspect of life to help you deal with the many stresses of life.

If that wasn’t reason enough to love our best girls even more, they can even help reduce the risk of dementia in old age. We know our best friends can instantly make your day better and can help you feel less alone. Studies now have shown that having intimate, profound friendships decrease feelings of loneliness - an emotion that increases the likelihood of suffering from dementia.

They Get You Moving

In this exciting age of Fitbit challenges, your besties can also improve your physical activity. Getting to the gym or getting in your recommended daily steps can be a struggle, but studies have shown that when you make plans to go to the gym with your best friend or send them a step challenge, you’re more likely to stick to your fitness plans and get active!

Your best friends are there to give you the harsh truth about your outfit, support you in your decisions and burst into fits of giggles with you after consuming half a bottle of wine (cue The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends”). Take a moment to appreciate your besties and all you do for each other!

 

Sources: Cover, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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