When it comes to health and wellness, the first things that usually come to people’s minds are good nutrition and exercise. Those are obviously vital for good health, but close relationships and connections with family and friends are equally important for your overall well-being. Yes, friends and family are good for your health.
Spending time alone can certainly be a good way to decompress, but when it comes to dealing with stress and maintaining happiness, family and close friends are more beneficial. In fact, as important as family is, it’s tight friendships that can have the most positive effect, particularly as you get older.
Here are the top-4 areas where friends and family are good for your health:
Coping with stress
The all-too-common solution for dealing with stress is by self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or smoking, but all those will do is temporarily mask the stress. Talking about your problems with close friends or family is much more effective, and it allows you to relieve stress with potentially positive feedback and advice from those whose opinions you value. Often times, simply having a friend listen is all you need for the biggest stress relief.
Socializing with groups of friends not only makes you feel happy and actively improves your sense of well-being, it’s also good for your mental health. Mental cognition and memory can improve when socializing with groups of friends, and this can also help improve allostasis, or your ability to effectively respond to stress and maintain stability during stressful situations.
Sure, having a group of active friends can help you stay physically healthy, but cardiovascular health comes from more than just physical activity. Spending time with friends is a great de-stressor, and effective stress management can reduce inflammation in arteries as well as decreasing your pulse and blood pressure.
This one isn’t always the case, as social eating can obviously be less than ideal at times. When you’re actively trying to eat a healthy diet, however, friends and family can make the process much easier by helping to keep you on track and even joining you on your quest for good nutritional health.
Friends vs. Family
Supportive family and friends are great for your health, but contrary to what you might be thinking, close friends can actually be more important, especially as you get older. You don’t choose your family, so even when relationships are close, it’s not always the same as type of closeness.
When it comes to friends, you tend to be more selective by choosing to spend more time with the people who make you happy. Good friends are often more actively supportive, which can be better for your health and wellness, and they’re great at boosting your self-esteem and fighting off potential depression. Plus, they can give you honest feedback when needed.
What about people who consider their pets to be family members or close friends? Pets definitely count! While your pets might not give you verbal feedback, they do give you a strong sense of purpose which boosts your sense of well-being and improves health. As an added bonus, pets often require you to be more active which adds to the sense of well-being and improves physical fitness.
While you might not realize it when you’re younger, friends and family are good for your health, so choose friends you genuinely enjoy being around – the more you enjoy their company, the longer you’ll be around to enjoy the time you spend together.