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Having Friends Is Good For The Health, Says US Study

Not having any social bonds or friends can cause severe health problems in the long term.

According to researchers from the Brigham Young University, having and keeping friends over a long period of time actually contributes to a longer, healthier life.  Julianne Holt-Lunstad, one of the key researchers of the study, states that having no friends translated to the stress and potential damage created by smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes per day.

The study

Holt-Lunstad and other researchers analyzed existing data from over 140 studies and attempted to create a causal pathway between health and social bonds.  The data involved in the study were from more than 300,000 individual test subjects.  The study was published in the scientific journal PLoS Medicine.

Based on their analysis, having no strong social bonds with other people produced the following harmful effects on a person:

1. Having no friends to talk to and bond with meant a person was almost like an alcoholic.

2. Having no social bonds was also measured as being more harmful than not exercising regularly.

3. According to the study, obesity’s effects on the human body paled in comparison to having no friends at all.

What is a real friend?

To make friends and keep the good ones, you have to know what a real friend does.

1. A real friend trusts you for who you are and respects you for your  identity and practices.

2. Growing and changing doesn’t mean that you will lose a real friend.  Real friends understand that people are always in a state of change – but they do not lose sight of the reason why they became friends with you in the first place.

3. Real friends do not stifle you or make you feel that you have to be somebody you are not.  Real friends give people the necessary to grow and establish their own identity, separate from friends and peer groups.

4. Privacy and confidentiality is important in a real friendship – and real friends know how to keep to themselves the things they hear from a confiding friend.

5. Real friends are able to absorb or accept how people express what they think and what they feel.

6. Real friends are a joy to be with when you are facing personal challenges, because they can provide a certain measure of support so you can beat these obstacles in life.

7. A real friend does not drive away people who want to help.

8. Being with a real friend produces happiness – there is no pressure to be with the person, but a genuine desire drives you to bond with each other.

9. A real friend never takes advantage of another person, no matter what the circumstances are.

10. A real friend creates and nurtures an emotional bond that allows both of you to grow and reach your full potentials as a human being.

How do you make friends?

If you haven’t been socializing lately, you may feel that your social skills are quite rusty.  You may feel that no one would be interested in talking to you and being friends with you.

This is not true.  While the world is a hard place to live in, people are often very open and happy to accept newcomers and new friends.  You just have to leave your shell of elusiveness and isolation to make new friends.

Do you want to make new friends? Try the following places and events:

1. Identify other issues in your life and try finding a support group that fits your needs.  Support groups exist in every city and state in the United States, and many of these support groups have online presence, which means they won’t be hard to find.

2. Watched any good theatrical productions lately?  The theater is a good place to find good people to chat with and make friends with.

3. Love rock n’ roll music or country tunes?  Then go to a concert – we’re pretty sure that concerts are packed with enough people for you to find at least one or two people to connect with.  You just have to start a good conversation.

4. Other places that you can visit include art shows, book launches, poetry reading shows, etc.  Visit events that interest you – so you can meet and talk to like-minded people.

Having trouble reaching out to new people? Try the following:

1. Make good conversation with the new acquaintance and focus on listening rather than going on and on about yourself.  People generally love good listeners and they will warm up to you faster if you show that you genuinely want to know more about them.

2. After warming up to the new acquaintance, you may want to invite the other person to lunch or another event that he or she may be interested in.

3. If you’ve learned enough about your new acquaintance, watch out for news or updates in his field of interest.  Then you can call or drop him an email about the news – this is a great way to create a two-way channel of communication between budding friends.

4. If the person is doing something (like building a model airplane), offer your assistance – but don’t be too pushy, as this will make the other person avoid you.

How do you keep good friends?

Once you have made a good friend (or good friends), you have to make sure that your friendship does not die out – like a candle left out too long outside.  Here are some steps to maintain a good friendship for the long term:

1. A good friend is interested and participates in the interests and passions of his own friend.  Make sure that you join your friend in activities that he likes, and vice versa.

2. Small things like playing video games or even sharing a tasty meal can mean a lot to friends.  Talking and listening is a also an excellent way to show that you care for another person.

3. Keep the lines of communication open with your new friends.  Do not isolate yourself for no reason or cut them off when you feel frustrated or depressed.  Instead, keep an open line and talk to them about your problems . You might be surprised how efficient friends are in cheering other people up.  You have to be there for them too, when they need someone to lean on or listen to them.

4. The effort to maintain the friendship should not be one sided.  The  effort and responsibility should be shared equally by both parties, so make sure that you do your part and you remind your friend that he should exert effort as well.

5. Show your home to your friend – this act alone will tell your friend that you are comfortable with him and you trust him as a friend.

Sources:
newsmaxhealth.com
download.ncadi.samhsa.gov

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  1. Health Smarts, Strong Hearts: Study Shows Health Literacy Prolongs Life
  2. Study Finds Stress-filled Parents Affect Children’s Health
  3. Smoking Cessation: How Best to ‘Pack’ It In
  4. Dogged with Health Problems? Buy a Pet
  5. Kids’ Social Health Is Tobacco’s Latest Victim
  


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