1. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
We often say that quality time spend with a few good friends is good for your heart. And while we usually mean this metaphorically, referring to the uplifting and supportive role of friends, it turns out that it may also hold on a literal level.
In fact, several studies claimed that people who feel a lack of social support and constant loneliness are more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke, so it's in your best interest to spend some quality time with your best buddies and girlfriends from time to time, no matter how busy your schedule might be.
2. Increases Longevity
Some studies suggest that being lonely is equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day in terms of influencing your longevity. Whether or not this parallel can truly be drawn, the longest-running study of the bio-social behavior of humans suggests that quality relationships, even the ones you experienced in your early twenties, can predict the quality of your life and whether or not you’re still alive in your 70’s.
So, in the end, even science proves that it is not the quantity, but the quality of your friendship that matters the most.
3. Holds Back Cognitive Decline
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that loneliness increases the pace of cognitive decline among seniors, with some studies even linking it to dementia. It isn’t clear whether or not it is the lack of social contact altogether or the feeling of loneliness that affect cognitive functioning, but it definitely suggests that people of all ages benefit from spending time with people they enjoy communicating with.
4. Promotes Creativity
Are you someone who constantly asks your friends question and demand feedback on your work or a creative projects? If so, good for you, as research suggests that people who ask others’ opinions are more creative in a work environment than those who do all the work on their own. Communication in general inspires people to novel ideas and creative solutions, so brainstorm as much and as often as you can.
5. Makes You Less Sensitive to Pain
Time seems to fly when you’re spending it with a trusted friend, no matter if you’re discussing important issues, sharing impressions or telling each other jokes. The surprising findings among those who suffer from chronic pain and post-trauma pain show that social support and laughter can both increase one’s pain threshold. How interesting, who knew that having a good laugh or a deep conversation with a friend can be so therapeutic?
6. Increases Your Professional Success
More and more research piles up suggesting that networking is one of the best ways to get a job, and not just any job, but a well-suited one. And even if you’re not in the market for a new job yourself, just think of the times you suggested an opportunity to your trusted friends.
And while a job search should not be the reason why you should befriend a person, a supportive group of friends definitely helps with professional success. The reason why we believe professional growth is an important aspect of wellbeing is that a lack of career opportunities can seriously affect one's physical and especially mental health, so it is just as important as having a good night's sleep or a healthy meal.
7. Makes It Easier To Cope and Fight Stress
Having a trusted circle of friend can make or break the recovery process after emotional trauma or intense stress, so much so that it was found that people experiencing severe stress and trauma were more resilient and less likely to develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) if they lived in a supportive social environment.
This includes a variety of traumatizing triggers, such as loss, assault, surviving life-threatening situations and participating in military combat. It is crucial to support your friends if they are going through a difficult and stressful time, whatever the cause.
8. Better Prognosis For Certain Types Of Cancer
Although it is often difficult to state which aspect of social support is helping the most when one finds themselves in a health crisis, research suggests that the very perception of being supported can aid the recovery process, at least in breast cancer patients.
The key word here is “perception”, meaning that a person who feels like they are being supported, irrespective of the factual quantity of said support, has a better outlook than one who is feeling lonely.
9. Increases Immunity
Being socially-active may be beneficial to your immune system, several studies suggesting the link between the recurrence of certain chronic conditions and the feeling of connectedness with others. Patients suffering from herpes virus, for example, were more likely to experience an outbreak when they felt unsupported.
Fun fact: another puzzling study found that reverse might be true as well: the better your immune system, the more socially-active and connected you are. But don't run to the doctor just yet if you don't feel like spending time with your co-workers or neighbors, as it's just a theory.
10. Better Outcome For Depression
The saying "a friend in need is a friend indeed" has never been more true than for people suffering from mental illness, as for them it is often very challenging to find and maintain social bonds. Simultaneously, these are the people who are in need for social support the most.
This is especially true in depression, as some symptoms of the disease (such as lack of motivation, interest, energy, and negative perception of the surroundings) inadvertently lead to a life of seclusion, which can snowball into even more pain and anguish. Social support is key for people suffering from this disease, as it can promote a socially-active and fulfilling life.
11. Lowers Blood Pressure
The last benefit on the list is also quite surprising, but it is backed science that satisfaction from social support can lower one’s blood pressure. The research refers to any aspect of social life, both at work and at home and, once again, the person's perception is more important than the "reality".
And while the study did look at only borderline and mild forms of hypertension, it may as well be beneficial to everyone and it certainly won't hurt.