How Making Friends (Even Online Ones) Helps You Stay Healthy and Happy
7 minute read
With social media platforms dominating the internet, more and more people interact online rather than in person. Whether it is the convenience factor or the appeal of being able to present yourself however you want, making friends online seems to be the way to go these days.
Just like in the physical world, though, your online status and friendships say a lot about you. Maintaining contact with friends and the fulfillment that provides can be an important, even life-saving part of getting older.
Making friends can be a challenge. Sometimes you just click with an individual, but for the most part it takes time. You need to get to know each other, and in today’s busy world, finding the time to do this can be difficult.
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Thankfully technology makes everything easier, including making friends. You don’t have to put your best clothes on and head out anywhere. You can make friends from the comfort of your home, using an assortment of social media platforms.
We all unconsciously judge other people when we are interfacing, and this is no different online. The friends you make will depend on the groups you already belong to.
To make friends, you should be a part of as many groups and organizations as you can. The more groups or organizations that you are a part of, the more opportunities you have to meet potential friends.
Friendship is based on common interests, and recent studies show that there is some truth to the saying “birds of a feather flock together.” Individuals who belong to similar organizations and groups of interest will naturally gravitate towards one another, making friendship a strong possibility.
The more overlap people have within an organization or setting, the more opportunity there is to get to know one another.
With familiarity and shared interests comes friendship, and you stand a better shot of making friends when you belong to a wider selection of groups. It helps to be a part of groups that you share interests with, but the success of actually making friends will depend on how many groups and overlaps with other people that you have.
Get more familiar with social groupings online, and you will get the friends you seek.
How Friends Impact Your Health
Humans are naturally social creatures, and our health and existence depends on relationships and social interaction. Whether the interactions are based in the physical or online worlds, what matters is that we have and maintain social connections.
Social media has provided us a way to do this with ease and convenience, and our overall well-being will benefit from this. Here’s how:
Friends Can Extend Your Life
Studies have found a correlation between maintaining friendships and premature death. Social relationships exert a profound effect on your life and can promote longevity as compared to more isolated individuals.
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Friendships give us a means of support that can relieve stress. With stress being a major contributor to serious health problems, such as heart disease, having friends seems like an enjoyable prevention method.
Studies have shown that social ties have a stronger influence on health than exercising and quitting smoking, so you should be reaching out to several online groups to start making those beneficial connections.
Friends Keep Your Brain Sharp
Loneliness has long been linked to increased risk for depression and dementia. Since loneliness is a subjective feeling, you have the ability to change it.
The presence of social attachments, physical or online, creates a sense of belonging that humans need. The brain is a social organ and requires stimulation and contact, which is why attachment is so important in the early years of our development.
In addition to this, regular contact, communication, and feedback promote optimal cognition. In creating friendships, you can protect your brain and stay mentally sharp.
Friends Boost Your Health
The support network provided by friends is the best way to relieve stress, as mentioned. The benefits of this for your health lie in the elimination of stress-related inflammation.
| Related: Does Lowering Stress Fight Cancer? |
Inflammation is linked to serious health conditions such as heart disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. When not controlled, inflammation can spread through your body, damaging cells, tissues, and organs.
If hanging out with friends helps relieve stress and control inflammation, then you should get online and start joining as many groups as you can. Clearly there is strength in numbers.
Friends Prevent Depression
Tough times are a natural part of life, but your well-being depends on how you get through them. Friends help support you through struggles and specifically help with rejection and negative events.
If you are dealing with negativity alone, it can be too much to bear emotionally and the risk for depression is great. The presence of friends does not make the bad times go away, but they do make the tough times easier to get through. This is especially important later in life.
The wider your circle, the more support you will have and you can help each other through sadness and avoid depression.
The Bottom Line
Sometimes the responsibilities of life can interfere with maintaining contacts, and social media helps to bridge any distance gaps. Once you make friends, you can easily keep them and the support you get is still there, even if contact happens through a screen only.
Start browsing organizations and groups and join the ones you have interests in. Soon you will find other groups and other individuals with related interests, and your social network will grow. The more groups you belong to, the better your chances are of making friends, and as your social media “likes” and friend requests increase, so will your well-being.