Friendship’s Got Benefits

friendship is good for your health

Having a close-knit group of friends is way more beneficial than you might imagine. Your besties provide support, lift your spirits when you’re feeling down and make you laugh (which is also really good for you, btw). And according to multiple studies, having close friends can have a positive impact on your physical health as well as your mental health. There’s actually science behind it!

"People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” Karen A. Roberto, Virginia Tech’s Director of the Center for Gerontology (study of old age) told The New York Times. "Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better."

One of the best things about best friends is what you share with them — the inside jokes, the memories, your deepest secrets, even those moments when you catch each other's eye and both burst out laughing. It’s what makes you so close. It’s what makes you the very best of friends. The idea that simply nurturing those close relationships could lead to a healthier and happier life, stuck with us here at Moonpig. So, we asked the cast of our latest campaign to share what they loved about their best friends. Their responses were incredibly moving.

There’s no doubt that great friends can make you feel good. They’re supportive, they make you feel proud, and sure, they can get on your nerves from time to time, but they endure any upsets and are there for you when you need them most.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections."

When we say multiple studies, we mean a whopping 148 have been conducted on this very subject, and in 2010, Brigham University researchers gathered all that data. What resulted was a total of over 300,000 participants and a sparklingly clear indication that friendship is good for you.

Time Magazine reports: "A robust social life, these studies suggest, can lower stress levels; improve mood; encourage positive health behaviours and discourage damaging ones; boost cardiovascular health; improve illness recovery rates; and aid virtually everything in between. Research has even shown that a social component can boost the effects of already-healthy behaviours such as exercise."

So we strongly advise reaching out to your nearest and dearest to let them know just how much you love them. And even if those friendships require a little dusting off, or work to maintain, the pay off is worth it. Because isolation has the opposite effect.

"Social isolation, meanwhile, is linked to higher rates of chronic diseases and mental health conditions," says Time Magazine. "The detrimental health effects of loneliness have been likened to smoking 15 cigarettes a day."

But the good news is, it doesn't take much to reach out to a friend — old or new. One of the nicest things you can do is send them a card, telling them just how much they mean to you. Remind them of your favourite times together, tell them what makes you proud of them, maybe even throw in a photo or two! (See what we did there? Wink, wink.)

And if you’re comfortable enough, try saying these things to them in person. We get it. Pouring your heart out to someone you care about can be really awkward. But reaffirming the things you love about that person or people will make you feel amazing, and it will make them feel pretty darn good too.

When it comes to making your special friends feel special, there’s no more special an occasion than their birthday. Throw a party for your closest mates, or make a speech, honouring your friendship. And don’t forget an epic gift.

The thing about celebrating friendship, particularly around someone’s birthday is that it’s a wonderful opportunity to show them just how well you truly know them. The thought and effort you put into choosing a perfectly personal gift and a card that’s totally their sense of humour will not go unnoticed.

And because they’ve turned another year older, you’ve both got another chance to walk through life together, being there for one another, encouraging one another, and trying to outdo each other’s lavish birthday celebrations!

This isn’t a totally selfish act, you see. This whole friendship thing works in a cycle. Your best mates will see the exact same positive health benefits as you do when you make them feel appreciated, included and loved.

Beyond birthdays, it’s extremely important to support your besties during big changes or achievements in their lives. When your friend has a new baby, you can tell them how excited you are to help out in any way you can on this brand new adventure. Or, if you have a friend going through a tough breakup you can remind them of what an amazing person they are, and how anyone would be lucky to be their partner. And when they land a new job, you can congratulate them and help them prepare for their new role.

If you want your message, your words of encouragement, to last for years to come, there’s no better way to preserve that sentiment than in a thoughtfully chosen card. Taking a few minutes out of your day to focus on all the great things you share with your best mates in a birthday card is truly a win-win. Celebrating your friendship will help ensure that you’ll have plenty more happy and healthy birthdays to come!

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