Friends (those dependable and trusted few but can really be called as friends) are important extensions of ourselves that are always there to help us and advise what is the best and worst for us – be it fashion, choice of party place, games, food and most importantly, our health. We all know that health isn’t just the mere absence of physical sickness and illnesses, modern health definition is the attainment and maintenance of people in the positive state of wellbeing physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, occupationally, spiritually and environmentally.

There are times that our friends get into our nerves but true friends can give us substantial benefits which can push us to be better. A friend, as a social support system, provides many help and assistance to us in the following forms to achieve overall health wellness:

  1. Emotional support
    – Sense of belongingness, acceptance, love, understanding, trust, care and motivation
  1. Instrumental support
    – Errands, things we borrow and ask, acquaintance and companionship
  1. Informational support
    – Personal advices and suggestions for self or work
  1. Appraisal support
    – Constructive criticism and information for evaluation

According to the study conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University, wherein nearly 1,500 older people were followed for 10 years, it is found that those who had large network of friends outlived those with fewest friends by 22%.  Lynne C. Giles, one of the four researchers who conducted the study, give emphasis that social networks and support such as family ties are important for longevity and survival.

In line the stated case, in 1989, Dr. David Spiegel, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, published a landmark paper which showed that women with breast cancer who participated in a support group lived twice as long compared to those who didn’t. It is also noted in his report those who participated in social support programs experience much less pain. To add more merit to these studies, Dr. Sheldon Cohen, psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, stressed that strong social support helps people cope with stress. Moreover, Dr. Cohen said, “Friends help you face adverse events. They provide material aid, emotional support, and information that helps you deal with stressors. There may be broader effects as well. Friends encourage you to take better care of yourself. And people with wider social networks are higher in self-esteem, and they feel they have more control over their lives.”

Achieving positive state of health and maintaining it in the appropriate state takes time and effort. Like friendship, the short sacrifices that you will be encountering will be worthwhile at the end of the day because of the residual and long-term positive effects of having a good set of friends and for being healthy in and out.

References:

Valeo, Tom. Web MD. Good Friends are Good for You. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/good-friends-are-good-for-you on June 4, 2015

Health Fitness Revolution. Why Good Friends are Good for Your Health. Retrieved from http://healthfitnessrevolution.com/good-friends-good-health/ on June 4, 2015

Advertisements