“Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.” — Socrates
People nowadays live a fast-paced life without thinking about slowing down for a while. Commuting to work in the morning and coming back home in the evening — people are living in their bubbles without taking breaks. This kind of lifestyle affects almost every aspect of someone’s life outside work, and mutual relationships with family and friends are no exception.
Family and friends are essential contributors to your life balance outside work. Family is your innermost circle that provides primary comfort in life. But in terms of maintaining healthy social life and relationship, it is also essential to spend some time with your good friends.
A study focusing on friendship relationships found that friendships beyond those within an individual’s family are indispensable sources of support that can offer companionship, intimacy, affection, and mutual assistance. Here are some powerful benefits of spending time with your friends:
Improves your well-being and mental health
Maintaining well-being and mental health is quite hard when you have no one to guide and support you. One of the easiest ways to do so is by connecting with your loved ones, for instance, your closest friends.
A longitudinal study was conducted on first-year university students in Australia to find any links between social connectedness in university friends, mental health and well-being, and the social status of said university students. The findings showed that social connectedness with friends was positively associated with well-being and negatively associated with depression.
Decades of research have shown that there is a strong relationship between quality friendship and happiness. Spending time with friends and participating in enjoyable activities can contribute to an individual’s happiness. This is because meeting with your friends can increase your sense of belonging as it reduces loneliness and promotes companionship.
According to a research from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego, happiness spreads through social networks like an emotional contagion. After conducting research on nearly 5,000 individuals over 20 years, researchers found that people become happier when their networks open up to three degrees. It is not just one person’s happiness that triggers a chain reaction that benefits their friends, but also their friends’ friends, and so on. The surprising finding was that after one year, the effects were still present which made it obvious that growing a lifelong friendship and maintaining the friendship will make you happier even in the long term.
Increases your sense of belonging and purpose
As defined by psychologists, the sense of belonging, also known as “belongingness”, refers to the emotional need to belong to a group and to be accepted by its members. A person may want to belong to a peer group at school, be accepted by coworkers, be on an athletic team, or belong to a religion.
Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, belongingness is the third tier of the hierarchy which can be fulfilled by friendship. Spending time with your friends helps you to develop your sense of belonging and sense of being accepted by one’s peers or relationships.
Maintaining friendships and regularly spending time with them will also help you grow and improve your life satisfaction. A study on PubMed Central analyzed the relationship between friendship ties and life satisfaction using the Italian National Statistical Institute’s 2012 multipurpose survey. The data held a large sample survey that interviewed a sample of approximately 50,000 people in about 20,000 households. According to the results, life satisfaction is positively correlated with friends’ intensity (measured by how often individuals see them) and friendship quality (measured by how satisfied they are with their friendships).
Provides emotional support and safety
Spending time with your friends may also help you to develop closeness which can benefit you when you have things that are difficult to share with other people. Cleary and colleagues (2018) in their review and critique paper about friendship and mental health said that friendship could offer a level of intimacy in which one can disclose personal issues, desires, and questions or seek advice and help.
Spending quality time is one of the many ways to ensure you have emotional backup and support aside from your family. Friends are considered another support group that you can reach out to whenever you need support. You might face difficult conditions or traumatic experiences that can directly affect your well-being and it might get worse if you handle it all alone.
Those who experienced traumatic events can lean on the safety net that friendship can offer. Emotional safety is the emotional level of comfort and security between two or more people when they are together. Having a safety net with your close friends helps to encourage you to be resilient, and feel secure to trust your friends whenever you face something difficult in your life.
Improves your self-confidence and self-worth
Have you ever joined a school running competition where you nearly gave up? But your friends cheered you on the side of the track and suddenly your confidence boosted up a hundred percent? It is a simple example of how your friends can boost your confidence. Sometimes you are feeling unsure or gloomy with insecurity, you can reach out to your best friends and they can cheer you up while giving you constructive opinions on what you should do or what you should change.
In a study conducted by Harris and Orth (2019), they examined over 47,000 participants in 52 studies to determine the effects of self-esteem on social relationships over time. The researchers found that positive social relationships, social support, and social acceptance influence self-esteem development across the lifespan of children and adults. This is evidence that friendship, as well as regularly hanging out with them, is really important to influence someone to grow his/her self-esteem along with confidence and self-worth.
The essential baseline is, that spending time with your friends is not just a free leisure activity. It has many benefits you can reap while having a fun and great time with them. As simple as maintaining your relationships with your best friends can benefit you by improving your well-being, creating happiness and acceptance, to finally realizing that your friends can be your safe place whenever you need it.
If you would like to improve other aspects of your life, the Personal Science Labs has several resources available. Using the research of the Institute for Life Management Science, the lab produces learning resources including videos, podcasts, quizzes, and other interactive tools. Visit the Personal Science Labs today.
Photo by Wynand Uys on Unsplash