6 reasons to always prioritize your friends – you’ll thank yourself later

Marked today International Friendship Day.

We all know how important our friends are to our happiness. Good friends not only make good times better, but they also help us get through bad times and deal with them better.

In fact, according to a study of 323,000 people in 99 nations, those who said they considered each other good friends in their lives reported being happier, healthier, and more satisfied with their lives.

The study, published last year in Frontiers in Psychology in “Friendship Matters Around the World: Links to Cultural Factors, Health, and Well-Being,” was the first of its kind — and using rating scales, participants indicated how important they were to friends in their lives were how happy they were, how healthy they were, and how satisfied they were with their lives.

So our friends are important – a lot. And making sure we keep those friendships alive and thriving has so many benefits—both in the short and long term.

Turn2Me, an Irish mental health charity, endorses the study’s findings, noting that good friendships have a positive impact on our mental health.

To mark International Friendship Day, the charity explained that close and healthy friendships are extremely important, especially as we face life’s challenges.

“Whereas having fun and doing things with friends is wonderful close Friends can actually mean having better mental health and even living longer.”

Here are six ways close friends can benefit our mental health:

1. Increases the sense of belonging

As humans, we are social beings. We need exchange with others and belonging to a group. Feeling outside of the friend group never feels good and can trigger anxiety. So having a healthy group of friends is so important to making us feel like we belong and are worthy of being loved. A strong sense of belonging is critical to our mental health, especially when battling depression.

2. Increases happiness

Spending time with good friends is wonderful because you can do fun things together or just chat and laugh together. Think of all your happiest times and chances are some of them happened with close friends.

Everyday stress can be relieved by good friends. When life gets a little tough, friends are there for us, acting as a buffer between us and stress. Talking to a trusted friend about our day can take some of the burden off our shoulders.

4. Dealing with trauma, grief and life’s challenges.

True friends are there for us in times of need. They offer a shoulder to cry on or just listen to when we need them too. When traumatic events happen in our lives, friends are often the ones who help us cope and guide us through the tough times. Research shows that people with fewer good friends have a harder time dealing with traumatic events or the loss of a job or relationship.

5. Friends can offer advice on healthy behavior

Sometimes our friends see our behavior more clearly than we do, sometimes they can be a bit more objective. Friends will sometimes talk to you if they are concerned about certain behaviors, such as B. Drinking, being in a toxic relationship, isolating ourselves, or developing unhealthy relationships with food. They can help you see what you’re doing and encourage you to change your behavior. If we have a physically fit friend who enjoys exercising, they can also inspire us to adopt healthy behaviors.

6. Friends can help us live longer

Research shows that strong friendships and social support can not only improve your quality of life but also extend your life expectancy. Our emotional and physical health is strengthened when we have more social interactions and strong relationships.

“The moral of the story is to hold on to good friendships, they can make a big difference!” said Turn2Me’s Anna O’Mahony Sinnott.

Turn2Me was formed in 2009 based on the very personal experiences of Oisin and Diarmuid Scollard, who lost their brother Cormac to suicide in 2003. In 2013, Turn2Me received support from the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention to offer online counseling.

In 2019 Turn2Me partnered with ReachOut Ireland to create a place for young people to find information online to support their mental health. As of September 2021, Turn2Me will be offering adult counseling and peer support services to adults and youth ages 12 and older. It also offers group support services for teenagers, youth and adults.

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