Why Being a Good Friend is Good for Your Health (and Your Friend's!)

Taking care of the many obligations we have in our day can feel overwhelming, whether it’s work, school, children, family obligations, health...we could continue this list for a long time.

So it may seem extraneous to say that making time to be a good friend is something you should prioritize. Sure, it’s fun to hang out with friends, but there are so many other demands for our attention. Aren’t those more important?

Well, research would argue that friendship is actually incredibly important to your health and well-being. Taking time to be a good friend and surrounding yourself with friends who are good to you in return can impact stress, boost longevity, and fight the harmful health impacts of loneliness.

Think of it this way: if you want to be around long enough to be a good family member, parent, sibling, coworker, teacher, or one of the many other important hats that you wear, then taking time for your friends, and therefore your health, is going to help get you there.

It can be a challenge to make time and show up for our friends. Especially after a global pandemic that necessitated social distancing, prioritizing friendships once again may take some practice. Here are a few ways to get started.

Take time to listen

Whether you’re hanging out with a friend in-person, catching up on the phone, or attending an infamous video conferencing happy hour, being a good listener is critical to good friendship.

That’s because when researchers say that friendship is good for your health, they don’t just mean having a group of people you can make small talk with at a bar. Listening to your friends shows that you’re able to be there for them in challenging situations and helps them realize they’re not alone.

To be a good listener, make eye contact, keep your phone put away, and restate what your friend has shared with you to make sure you understand them correctly. Ask followup questions, give them space to talk out what they’re going through, and most importantly, don’t offer judgement or criticism.

Next time, when it’s your turn to share, your friend will have a great model to be a good listener back to you!

Make plans for quality time

Quality time means something different to everyone. For some, it’s taking a long walk on a wooded trail with a friend and having a great conversation. For others, it’s going out to a new restaurant and appreciating the good food. For others, it’s an intense weekend of mountain bike riding.

Figure out what quality time means for both you and your friend, and find activities that overlap. This doesn’t have to be an activity that happens every week or even every month (though if you have time, that’s great!). But being intentional about doing something special and important to celebrate your friendship will help build your bond, and establish trust for the years to come.

Put your friend first

Sometimes, the last thing on our minds is scheduling friend time. It can be difficult to remember to write that birthday card or check in during a busy week to see how your friend is doing. That’s why it sometimes takes an initial push or extra effort on our part to be a good friend.

But being altruistic in our actions toward our friends doesn’t just make us feel good. We may find that the extra care we show the people we love will be returned to us when we’re also most in need. 

 

Have questions about health insurance? Contact a Sea Mountain Life & Health Insurance Specialist today!