No doubt you’ve heard buzz that friendship eases stress and emotional pain, in addition to improving your physical health. But in middle adulthood, it’s the quality of your social ties that matters more than the number of them, according to new research in proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Keep your vows of friendship intact for the sake of your mind, mood and overall well-being.
4 Reasons You Need Good Friends
ANXIETY GETS BLOCKED OUT
Having a supportive friend helps shield your body from stress; in one study, folks were faced with the threat of getting an electric shock either while solo or holding on to a friend. MRI brain scans revealed that gripping a pal’s hand apparently caused the regions of the brain that sense danger to be significantly less active.
HILLS SEEM LESS STEEP
When The University of Virginia students were asked to stand at the bottom of a hill and rate its steepness, they judged the hill to be less of a climb when they were with a friend than when they looked at it alone. There’s more: The stronger the friendship, the less steep they guessed the hill to be.
GOOD MOODS TURN CONTAGIOUS
Data from the nearly 5,000 adults who participated in the famous Framingham Heart Study showed that people who were surrounded by positive peers were more likely to become happier in the future — and the effect was boosted if happy friends lived within a close radius.
LOSS IS A LIGHTER LOAD TO BEAR
In a study of mostly older women who lost spouses, those who had a close friend to confide in maintained their health better than those who didn’t have friends or who relied on family for support.