The wise King Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return on their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up, but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” The book of Proverbs also tell us that, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (27:17).
The Bible reminds us of the importance of friendships and it’s no wonder that scientists are proving that having friends, people you trust and feel like you can talk to, are good for your health–particularly after your 50s.
Having Friends May Extend Your Life
According to recent scientific studies, those with close friendships have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This leads to increased cardiovascular health and reduces chronic inflammation–a condition that increases the level of average “wear and tear” on the body. This is assuming that you have friends who can make you laugh and can also talk to openly and honestly during times of stress.
However, if you have negative friends in your life, the reverse effect can take place by actually causing stress. If you have friends who are exceedingly negative, it may be time to talk to him or her about boosting their positivity. Or, if necessary, start spending time with someone else who is more positive. Not quite ready to give up your more negative friends? It’s okay! Research still shows that having a negative friend is better than not having any friends at all.
Friendships Keep Your Brain Engaged
Having involved friendships also reduces your risk of mental health concerns like dementia and alzheimer’s disease. The reason for this is that having conversations and doing activities that prevent loneliness engages portions of the brain that may otherwise fall into decline.
Friends Can Help You Cope
We all know that life can be very difficult at times. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a major transition, or an unexpected experience, we all go through hard seasons in life. It’s important to have someone to be able to pray with and talk to when these things happen. Simply talking and having social interaction is a healthy coping mechanism.
Friends Can Help You Beat Illness
In a recent study, researchers actually found that those who had breast cancer and had a supportive friend group were more likely to beat the disease than those who reported having little to no support. These researchers have also found that those who have supportive friends and, in turn, support their friends are more likely to have better sleep, listen to doctor’s orders, and possibly even heal faster.
What are some of the friendships in your life that will help improve your health? How do you go about meeting new people or nourishing old friendships?