The Power of Friendships: Your Relationships Impact Your Health Posted on May 01, 2017 by , 0 comments

Friendships can have a deep and long-lasting impact on our lives. Whether it’s getting a much-needed confidence boost at the right time, being introduced to your future spouse, or getting a recommendation for a job, friends can do a myriad of things to add meaning, depth and good health to our lives.

According to Psychology Today our friendships can also help support a normal blood pressure, promote a healthy immune system, encourage creativity, enhance our professional and career opportunities, support our cognitive health, and support our response and recovery from traumatic events.

Of course we can also be influenced negatively by certain relationships. People that have unhealthy behaviors may rub off on us, leading us to have to make tough decisions about whether or not to continue a friendship or let it go. So how do you know if a friendship is good for you or not? Consider your friendships based on these three categories:

The people we are surrounded by will inform our behavior, if given the opportunity. Meaning that if we surround ourselves with people who have a healthy approach to living, such as diets, exercise or education, we may also find ourselves exhibiting the same healthy behaviors. Reversely, if we choose to be with people who do not value their health, or exhibit other unhealthy behaviors, we may be influenced to adopt the same ideas, beliefs or behaviors.

If a friend is pulling you into behaviors that are unhealthy or even dangerous, it may be time to set boundaries around that friendship or end it entirely.

Friendships and Stress Management
Stress hormones have a fascinating impact on the brain as well as the rest of the body. When normal stress hormones such as cortisol are elevated, multiple systems and processes throughout the body change. We may have a harder time getting good sleep, our eating patterns might change, our concentration and work quality might be impacted, and even our libidos can wane. Stress is not just an emotion—it has a visible impact on our bodies.  

More than anything, a great group of friends who make you feel supported, loved, and cared for can go a long way to promoting peace of mind. Just knowing that you have a group of people who will support you should things go wrong can help you to manage your healthy response to stress.

If the friendships in your life help you manage your healthy response to stress, then you should nourish and encourage that relationship. However, if you find that a friendship is consistently putting you in a position of additional stress that is negatively impacting your life, you may need to consider the value of that friendship or the amount of time you are willing to give it. Once again, you may decide the best action is to end it completely.

Motivation and Elevation
A little friendly competition can be a great motivating factor for a lot of people. If your friends challenge you to meet your fitness, work, or personal life goals then you may find yourself more motivated and encouraged to work harder and faster towards those goals.

For example, if you’re having a hard time hitting your weight management goals, enlist a friend to workout with you. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it can be to focus on those goals and be motivated to get the work done.  

What types of friendships have helped you the most? Tell us in the comments below!