Lake trips, nights out on the town, and outdoor adventures with your friends are inevitable during the summer. But some may worry they’re using their free time for too much play and not enough work; the American way, eh?
According to one study that surveyed over 270,000 adults about how they value their friendships, hanging out with your crew might be more than just a fun way to pass the time. The study revealed that pouring your time and effort into your friendships leads to improved health, happiness, and wellbeing, especially for older adults.
Even if you’re close with your family, friendships come out on top when it comes to your overall wellbeing. Maintaining supportive friendships as you age is a better predictor of wellbeing than how strong your family connections are. These benefits don’t just come from expanding your social circle. You could have fifty friends who you interact with on a shallow, occasional level, but you still won’t reap as many benefits as the person with a tight-knit group of two or three friends.
Anthropologist and researcher Robin Dunbar says we’ve got about five people in our closest inner circle of friendship, and another 10 people in the one just beyond that. So the average squad may only have four or five members, but it’s up to that group to keep up a healthy brain and thriving emotional state when you age.
Friendships have an important impact on mental health, but their influence on your physical condition can be just as big. A study revealed that people reported their friends as a source of stress in their lives also reported more chronic illnesses. This also means that positive friendships can make quite a difference. Something as simple as a hug can slow your heart rate and decrease blood pressure.
Whether they’re family, friends, or significant others, it’s important for us to have comfortable, positive interactions with people rather than trudging through days filled with mundane or stressful routines. So enjoy a guilt-free brunch and mimosas with your besties over a chore-filled morning every once in awhile... your brain and body will thank you for it!