Friendship and Well-being

Shandra Martinez

| 2 min read

According to many studies, including those by Harvard University and the Mayo Clinic, cultivating friendships is important for well-being. Nurturing and investing in friendships can bring immense value to our lives. Friends expand our social networks and connections. They introduce new experiences and provide access to valuable resources, advice and professional opportunities.
Friends lower risk of stress and depression and strengthen self-esteem. Friends play a crucial role in our mental health. They offer companionship and a sense of belonging, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Being able to share our thoughts, worries and joys with friends can contribute to improved self-esteem, reduced stress and increased happiness.
Quality friends are more important to well-being than the quantity of friends. According to research by Oxford anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the average person has three to five very close friends. Friendships are built on shared experiences that contribute to a sense of fulfillment and enrich our lives. Close friends can challenge and inspire us to become better versions of ourselves. They provide constructive feedback, offer different perspectives and motivate us to step out of our comfort zones.
Friends are as important to physical health as diet and physical activity. Physically, social connection with people who inspire us to grow and improve is linked to lower blood pressure, lower body mass index, less inflammation and a reduced risk of diabetes.
Friendships are the number one indicator of joy and happiness. Strong friendships have a positive effect on our overall happiness and well-being. Research consistently shows that having close, supportive friendships is associated with better mental health, lower stress levels and increased life satisfaction.
Friendship is correlated with a lower risk of death. Studies have found that individuals with strong social connections tend to have lower risks of developing chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and depression.
Friends are part of our self-care as they can strengthen immunity. Friends can encourage us to indulge in healthier lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, and avoid unhealthy ones, such as drinking and smoking. Friends are also there to listen, empathize, offer a shoulder to lean on during difficult times and help us celebrate good times. Studies have shown that people with strong social connections are less likely to get sick and, should they get sick, tend to recover more quickly. 
Learn more about the benefits of celebrating and nurturing friendships in this Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being℠ webinar. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and individual well-being webinars and meditations here, where you’ll find past webinars and meditations on demand.
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