The Bliss of Friendship
As the holiday season approaches our view, many of us are excitedly planning and preparing fun, memorable get-togethers with family and friends. Friendships seem to be remembered with a pressing fondness and gratitude this time of year as we reflect on what brings us joy.
The pleasantries of friendship extend far beyond joy-filled moments, however. Research over the past couple of decades highlights the mental, emotional, and physical benefits friendships provide. Let's take a look:
1. Decreased Stress Response. The opportunity to sincerely talk to someone else who is supportive of you can reduce the amount of the hormone cortisol in your system. Chronic stress (and elevated cortisol production) has been linked to depression, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921311/)
2. Healthier Eating. Friends can have a strong influence on our eating habits. Studies have shown increaesd weight loss and healthier eating choices when people are supported by friends and family vs. standard care for weight loss (https://www.cardiosmart.org/News-and-Events/2013/11/Its-Easier-to-Lose-Weight-with-Family-and-Friends-Study-Finds)
3. Develop Social Skills. Friends can have a way of pushing us out of comfort zones and socializing with other people we would not have met on our own. Networking for personal interests or career interests often initiates through friendships.
4. Longevity. Increased factors for death - including suicide, accidents, and heart disease - have been linked to persons who do not have strong social ties. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/)
5. Increased Self-Confidence. Friends offer reassurance and praise and often can see strengths and potential in us that we may have a difficult time seeing on our own. When we have someone holding our hand or cheering us on, we often begin believing in our own abilities and potential.
Remember this season (and in all seasons) the gift of frienship in your life. And, remember the power you have to be a friend - and significantly improve someone else's life.
Shine On. -Kimberly
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