Friends — Who Needs Them?
We all do—a friend is that person who will not only share your joys but also lend a listening ear or a helping hand when trouble comes. Friends are not flawless, but they care. We turn to friends for counsel when we are perplexed, courage when facing a crisis, and compassion when we have failed. We are created with a need to give and share love and friendship as well as receive it.
When God created man, He said: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Research indicates that love and positive relationships impact health and well-being. Happily married people live longer and have fewer doctors’ visits than those who are unhitched or unhappy. These cozy couples tend to have lower blood pressure, heart failure, strokes, and better health habits than their crankier counterparts.
When couples act as a team, they are better able to defray the detrimental effects of stress that can sap immune strength and shorten life. This is in part due to the release of oxytocin, a bonding hormone that is released when mother’s nurse their babies. It is also released when we experience the nurturing effect of social connectedness with other people.
Single but not Sidelined. The healing benefits of positive social ties are also available to those who are widowed, divorced, single, or living alone for whatever reason. God knew that in this broken world not everyone would experience the blessing of a long, happy marriage. “God sets the solitary in families. He raises up the needy out of affliction, and makes him families like a flock.” Social institutions, such as extended family, church, and community, are as important to mental and physical health as nutrition and exercise.
A pooled analysis of studies showed that people with positive social relationships had a whopping 50 percent greater likelihood of survival compared to those with poor or insufficient social relationships. Those with scant or negative social ties had a mortality rate roughly equivalent to a person who smokes 15 cigarettes a day. The health benefit of social connectedness was comparable to quitting smoking and even exceeded other life-shortening factors as obesity and physical inactivity.
In a landmark report called “Hardwired to Connect” researchers concluded that high rates of depression, anxiety, and other serious mental, emotional, and behavioral problems among U.S. children and adolescents is largely due to a lack of connectedness. “We mean two kinds of connectedness — close connections to other people, and deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning.”
Having connections at all levels is important and beneficial—from a few deeply caring and committed relationships to a wider circle of casual and courteous contacts.
(Submitted by Betty Dean. Used by Permission from www.lifestylematters.com. Courtesy of LifeSpring – Resources for Hope and Healing, Stuart, VA.)