Written By Empress Of Pearl Powder
Sarah Anderson February 16, 2023
Friendships have a major impact on your health and well-being. Good friends prevent isolation and loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship.
People need a gentle touch, a hug, to be cared for and loved. We all need emotional support, positive stimulation, attention, and to be valued. Barbara Streisand's song, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world" rings true for evey human being in the universe.
We are social species, we need people, we need each other to survive.
Our need to connect with other people is even more fundamental, more basic than our need for food or shelter. Our need to reach out to and connect with others is a primary driver behind our behavior.
Our attitudes, language, and behaviors facilitate a connection. Not feeling connected is because of our own baggage we carry, our pride, our shyness or cynicism or competitiveness, etc. Human connections are not easy because many people live in fear of other people. But, we have to be brave and take our chances in making connections.
Studies say, "Lack of social connections is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, and high BP. Low levels of social skills are associated with a decline in physical and psychological health".
We Are Wired For Connection
Human beings, were not designed to live in isolation.
We live in a peculiar world. We communicate without talking. We fight without throwing a punch. We celebrate events in our lives with little digital hearts and thumbs-up emojis. And as our digital interactions skyrocket, the data shows we're losing real human connection. Millions of us have 2,000 "friends" online but no one who holds our hand, or embraces us when we're burdened and sorrowed.
I can text my husband "I love you" all day long, but without touching his face and looking in his eyes and saying "I love you" it means little.
Good Friendships Are Good For Our Well-Being
Good, solid friendships give us a sense of belonging and closeness, and enrich our lives. They improve our self-confidence and self worth and help us cope in this evil world.
Friendships are able to:
Improve your mood
Benefit your mental health
Enables you to feel safe
Regulate your nervous system
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
Boost your happiness
Help manage your emotions
Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
Help you cope with traumas
Strengthen your immune system
Strength your empanthy and compassion
Boost your elf-esteem
Enable you to feel like you belong
Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits
"Adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). In fact, studies have found that older adults who have meaningful relationships and social support are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections." ~ Mayo Clinic.
Hugs Are Good For Your Health
Science shows that hugs and touch are therapeutic. Hugs reduce stress, increase your sense of well-being, uplift your mood, boost immunity, and increase happiness.
Hugs are a form of positive physical contact. Scientists consider self-soothing touches and hugs to be potentially powerful ways to cushion an individual from stress and build resilience. Not only that, hugs have the potential to add years onto your life, or someone else's.
Hugs are marks of caring and compassion, and they help build feelings of trust and safety. This feeling lingers long after the hug, and can promote open and honest communication.
Hugs are good for our mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual health
Now, more than ever, people need more hugs. I'm a huger, and I am not afraid to hug people. And I have found that even if someone thinks they don't want one, after I hug them, they are glad I did.
Someone once said, "We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth".
Give of yourself today and give someone a nice, big comforting hug out of sincere compassion and sheer love for your fellow man.
Connection Is An Exchange Of Emotions
Connection is not an exchange of information. It's an exchange of humanity. It's an exchange of emotion. Emotional connection is the bond that keeps people together. It is the glue in relationships.
Emotion sharing involves communicating the circumstances, thoughts, and feelings surrounding an emotional event.
Relationships are about exchange of emotions and being there for each other. The deepest connection is formed when each person feels understood, valued, seen and heard, without judgement.
Connections Are About Them Not You
Connection is hearing each other, digging below the surface, and choosing to truly understand someone's picture of reality. You cannot be connected with someone if you're distracted by your phone or letting your mind wander.
You cannot be connected to someone if you're always waiting for your turn to speak, or to tell your version of a story they're telling. Nor can you show yourself friendly by cutting in before they are finished speaking. They will find you to be rude.
Even just sitting with each other in silence, being fully present is absolutely essential for connection.
How Can We Develop And Maintian Healthy Friendhips?
Developing and maintaining healthy friendships involves give-and-take. Sometimes you're the one giving support, other times you're on the receiving end. Letting friends know you care about them and appreciate them strengthens your bond. It's as important for you to be a good friend as it is to surround yourself with good friends.
The wisest man who ever lived name King Soloman said, "Those who have friends show themselves friendly". Proverbs 18:24.
Merely having large numbers of "friends" does not mean having many deep, committed ones in times of need. Willing to meet another person's need is a sign of true friendship. False and shallow companions don't act like friends, at all, when the relationship might cost them something.
To Develop and Maintain Healthy Friendships:
Be kind. This most-basic behavior remains the core of successful relationships. Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, rendering assistant or concern for others, without expecting anything in return.
Be a good listener. Ask how thing are going in your friend's lives and how they are feeling. Let the person know you are paying close attention through eye contact, body language and occasional brief comments such as, "I am so sorry to hear that, is there anything I can do to help?" When friends share details of hard times or difficult experiences, be empathetic, but don't give advice unless your friends ask for it.
Open up. Build intimacy with your friends by opening up about yourself. Being willing to disclose personal experiences and concerns shows that your friend holds a special place in your life, which can deepen your connection.
Show that you can be trusted. Being responsible, reliable and dependable is key to forming strong friendships. Keep your engagements and arrive "on time". Follow through on commitments you've made. And when your friends share confidential information, keep it private.
Make yourself available. Building a close friendship takes time - together. Make an effort to see new friends regularly, and to check in with them in between meet ups. You may feel awkward the first few times you talk on the phone or get together, but this feeling is likely to pass as you get more comfortable with each other.
Manage your nerves with good thoughts. You may find yourself imagining the worst of social situations, and you may feel tempted to stay home. Change those negative thoughts to reshape your thinking. Each time you imagine the worst, turn those negative thoughts into positive ones.
Every time a bad thought comes to mind, say "Stop It." Then turn those thought into something good. Think about good things, comforting things, the good things that are about to happen to you. Changing your thoughts will physically alter your brain over time. Those good thoughts will eventually become second nature, and you will soon notice your confidence increase.
Create Memories With Your Friends
You want to invite friends over but have no idea what to do with them. If you're sick of the same old bars, movie theaters, or weekend routines, try some of these activities.
Have a backyard or indoor picnic. Do a puzzle together, go out for lunch, or to a antique shop or show. Visit a museum or a botanical garden, or hit the trails and take a hike. Take a dance class, volunteer at the Humane Society, and enjoy playing with the puppies or kittens.
Check Out a Music Festival or Concert or go to a carnival and eat some carnival treats and get on one of their rides. Go swimming at a beach or pool, or spend the day on a kayak, paddle-board, canoe or a jet ski. Go horseback riding, or bowling, take a pottery class, hit the gym.
Play mini putt, head to the local farmers market, or go to a wine tasting event.
Invite a friend or two over for a spa day at home, then put on some relaxing music, dim the lights and bring out your best self-care products. Give each other a massage or do a face mask.
Plant some flowers together, get your hands dirty. Take a cooking class, or just go for a ride in the country. Make something creative.
Try one of these fun and memorable ideas the next time you want to connect with a friend.
It's never too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with old friends. Investing time in making friends and strengthening your friendships can pay off in better health, a longer life, and a brighter outlook for years to come.