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Friends for health


People who want to live a health-conscious life give up cigarettes and excessive alcohol consumption, exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. In addition to these well-known influencing factors, however, one thing is underestimated: social contacts as a health-promoting factor. This article explains why friends and good relationships with other people are important for your health.

Friendship and health?

When people think about the components of a healthy lifestyle, the main focus is on a healthy diet, sufficient physical activity and abstaining from alcohol and cigarettes. However, our social life is just as important. Humans have an innate basic need for recognition and belonging, and spending quality time with others has even been shown to strengthen health. The consequences of isolation and loneliness, on the other hand, are comparable to those of smoking or obesity: An increased risk of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes mellitus, as well as mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorders. In the following section, you will learn why quality friendships and good acquaintances are important for health and what beneficial effects they bring about.

Social contacts and their effects on individual health

It is well known that friends and appreciative relationships with other people contribute significantly to personal life satisfaction. But the benefits go far beyond that, because in addition to personal happiness, it even increases life expectancy and reduces the risk of various diseases. In the presence of close people, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins are released. These hormones lead to feelings of happiness and reduce stress levels and the perception of pain. In addition, good social contacts strengthen the immune system and contribute to the prevention of memory impairment of the brain.

Scientists from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology were able to determine that there are even changes in the frontal brain structure. This is associated with a higher level of resilience and the prevention of mental illness. The health-promoting effect of social contacts should not be underestimated. Instead of spending time in the “social” media, it is more advisable to meet people in real life and experience true closeness and connectedness. But what constitutes an enriching and healthy relationship?

Quality instead of quantity

Of course, not every kind of social contact supports health. What is important above all are qualitative friendships, i.e. relationships that are based on mutual sympathy and support and in which one experiences appreciation. It is important to be able to open up emotionally and to receive support when one needs it. It is also beneficial to be part of a community and to have the feeling that you can rely on someone. Everyone likes to spend time with their loved ones, but we also realize time and again that our time resources are limited. Therefore, we should devote this time thoughtfully to people who are also good for us and who make us feel seen and understood.

If this is not the case, one may well think about reducing or even discontinuing contact with this person in order to create space for high-quality relationships again. Apart from deep friendships, however, small conversations with the neighbor or the saleswoman spread throughout the day also help to get in touch with other people and to exchange ideas.

So investing in good friendships is also a contribution to your own health.

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