Friendship is Good for our Mental Health29/07/2022
Friendship Is Good for Mental Health. It's a fact. There's a strong connection between the two.
Having solid friendships can influence our mental health & well-being. Friends celebrate with us through the good times and show us love & support through the bad. They give us the companionship we need as social beings and help prevent loneliness in our lives at any age.
Friendship also plays an important role in our overall health, as people with strong social connections and supports have a reduced risk of developing health problems such as depression, anxiety and related physical conditions.
But good as friendships may be for our wellbeing, building them and keeping them isn’t all fun & games. As we get older, stressful lives, adult responsibilities and social boundaries can mean that maintaining friendship is a big investment of time and effort. When we’re feeling below par mentally, friendships can be the first thing to go by the wayside. If we’re feeling very low, we can distance ourselves from our friends and loved ones, causing hurt to them but not doing ourselves any favours either.
So, friendships take effort but they’re worthwhile, and we need to value and nurture them.
Here's 5 ways to nurture friendships
Developing and maintaining healthy friendships, and indeed all relationships, involves give-and-take. Just knowing that your friends know you and care for you is a luxury that should not be taken for granted. Showing our appreciation to our friends is about more than grand gestures, it is built on how we interact with them, whether that is every day or once a year.
We’ve spoken about the importance of listening in so many things. Active listening is key to all relationships, in work, social, family, everything! It can help save lives when we are supporting a friend in crisis. But in our friendships, we need to demonstrate to our friends that we are paying attention to them and that we understand and are taking in what they tell us. Listen, acknowledge, reflect back. Showing you are listening and understand is showing that you care. Visit our blog post on Active Listening here.
This applies in our day to day actions so let's not forget our firends. It’s easy to be kind. Let friends know you’re grateful to them and show them empathy in their own challenges. Don’t let petty rivalries intrude on your friendships. True friends are kind and supportive of each other.
Building and maintaining a friendship needs quality time together. Friendships thrive on shared experience, even if that’s just a walk or a conversation about a movie you’ve both seen. Make a point of making yourself available to meet your friends or check in on them regularly, even if it’s just through a phone call or social media.
Be open and non-judgemental with your friends, whatever your differences. As friendships grow we share personal, often very private experiences. This openess to each other develops closeness and lets your friend know the special place they hold in your life. This requires trust which leads us on to the next point.....
Trust and be trusted
Being reliable is the foundation of a solid friendship. Whether our friend is a much-loved drama queen or a steady rock, if we know they are there when we need them, that we can trust them with a confidence or that we can rely on them in different ways, they can be a friend for life. Return the favour by keeping your commitments, and by keeping any shared confidential information private.
Quality not Quantity
Some of us are lucky enough to have good friends from school or college or from young adulthood. But we can develop a new friendships and reconnect with old friends throughout our lives. Investing time in making friends and strengthening existing friendships positively affects our mental health and well-being. We can create a brighter outlook in our life by nurturing our friendships.
And remember, it’s quality and not quantity that matters when it comes to friendship. We don’t need loads of friends, we need good friends and we need to be good friends to them.
It’s good for our mental health and wellbeing and it’s good for theirs too.