As human beings, we are social creatures by nature. Instinctively, we don’t like feeling alone, and our bodies and brains actually function better when we are surrounded by others. We are basically wired to be social.
If you were to google “why humans need humans” or anything along those lines, you’ll find a plethora of articles explaining why social connections and friendships are vital to our health and well-being. Outside of our family units, when we have friends we can lean on, laugh with, cry with, and talk to, we are nourishing ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. We need that connectivity not only to survive, like this article suggests, but to thrive. Whether you’re someone who prefers to have just a few really close pals, or you’re a social butterfly with a lot of friends, at the end of the day, we need those relationships.
Here are the top three reasons we need friendships in our lives!
Friendships improve our health
Research has shown that having strong social connections is vital to our health. For starters, it can reduce stress levels, ward off depression and suicide, lower the risk of dementia, heart disease, and cancer, as well as boost our immune system…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s also easier to exercise and live a healthier lifestyle when you have the support of friends and family.
Friends extend our life expectancy
Aside from improving our overall health, maintaining friendships can also add years to our lives—just like regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and not smoking. Multiple studies have found that people who have positive relationships with their family, friends, and community are happier and tend to live longer. Some studies have even gone as far to conclude that social belongingness is just as important as physical survival needs, such as food and shelter.
Friends make life more fun
This might not be a mind-blowing revelation, but friends bring an abundant amount of happiness to our lives. While I’m sure you can find enjoyment doing certain things solo, I’d argue that most things are more fun when you do it with someone else. There’s an unexplainable joy that comes from sharing experiences with people we care about.
Studies have shown, including this one conducted back in 2011, that having meaningful social relationships affects our neurobiological endogenous opioid system (think endorphins), triggering the part of the brain that makes us feel good. Simply put, connecting and interacting with our friends gives us happy feelings. Ever caught up with an old friend, then felt really good afterwards? Those are your endorphins kicking in, telling you that what you just did is healthy for your emotional and physical health!
So, no matter what stage of life you’re in, make it a priority to get out and do things with your friends. Whether it’s a quick phone call or grabbing lunch, keep your friends close and remember to have fun!