If you just booked your next girls’ weekend, congrats! Not only does reuniting with your BFFs feel SO good, you’re also doing a huge favor for your health. Just ask blogger Angie Frederickson, who recently dished on her latest mini-mate-vacay for Huffington Post.
“A girls’ weekend with old friends isn’t just a vacation,” she said. “It’s a reality check with the people who know us best, and it’s what sustains us….When you’re submerged in a world of suburban self-imposed busyness and keeping up with the Joneses it’s hard to see anything else, and there’s nothing like an old friend to put it all in perspective.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves! After all, our friends are our confidantes, our shoulders to cry on (or laugh on), and our… medicine?
It’s true; good friends bring plenty of health benefits. Tons of scientific research has shown that having friends makes you healthier, happier, and even a better sleeper.
Don’t believe us? Try this: After compiling data from more than 3.4 million people across 70 studies, a massive 2015 study found that lack of strong friendships increased the risk of premature death from any cause by 50 percent. That’s roughly equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day! Plus, a lack of friendships predicts for mortality more so than obesity or physical inactivity. Strong relationships can also reduce the risk of dementia, as well as other health concerns, according to Harvard’s health newsletter.
“There are now a few studies starting to show just how important friendships can be for older adults,” William Chopik, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, told Science Daily. “Summaries of these studies show that friendships predict day-to-day happiness more and ultimately how long we’ll live—more so than spousal and family relationships.”
It’s not hard to see why friends give our health a major boost. Emotional support from other people can lower our blood pressure, improve hormone functions, build stronger immune systems, and maybe even lower inflammation levels, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, told the Washington Post. Plus, friends can encourage positive habits like healthy eating, exercising, taking prescriptions, and going to doctor’s appointments, she said. We also build a sense of purpose around our friends, which motivates us to take care of ourselves.
When all is said and done, though, good friendships don’t just happen. They need to be cultivated and nurtured over time. (Here’s how to make friends as a grown-up!) So the next time you book a weekend away with your BFFs, do so sans-guilt. It will be insanely good for you!