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Friendship Is a Lifesaver

http://nautil.us/issue/84/outbreak/friendship-is-a-lifesaver

nautil.us

Friendship Is a Lifesaver
My mother-in-law, Carol, lives alone. It was her 75th birthday the other day. Normally, I send flowers. Normally, she spends some…

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The antidote to loneliness

The antidote to loneliness

When people were forced into social isolation, a light was also shining on another crisis - loneliness.

The antidote to loneliness is accessible to all of us: friendship. The shared global crisis has showed how significant friends are to our day-to-day happiness.

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Friendship

Science shows friendship is critical for our happiness, health, and longevity.

* In the 1970s and 1980s, some epidemiologists and sociologists showed that socially isolated individuals over age 66 had a 30 percent increased risk of early mortality.

* Studies reveal that social connection improves cardiovascular functioning, reduces susceptibility to inflammation and viral disease, sharpens cognition, reduces depression, lowers stress, and even slows biological aging.

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Definition of friendship

Friendship requires at least three things: It should be long-lasting, positive, and cooperative. Friendship nearly always includes a willingness to help, especially in times of crisis.

In short, friendship is creating bonded groups that act as a buffer against life's stresses.

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Relationships all through life

At all stages of life, how we do friendship has to do with our natural desire for sociability and varies from person to person.

Friendship is a lifelong endeavor, although not everyone realizes it. If you only invest in friendships when your family and professional obligations slow, you will be at a disadvantage.

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Making new friends

It is possible to make new friends at every stage of life.

Volunteering is one way of improving the lives of other people, and the joint interest can assist in getting to know each other. Hopefully, friendships can grow out of that.

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The importance of friends

Having a weak circle of friends carries the same risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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Reconnect with old friends

You have probably met a large number of friends through just a handful of people. Those are your superconnectors. Rekindle those friendships and ask them if there is anyone you should meet.

Connecting to people

Don’t be interesting. Be interested.

  • Listen to people and ask them to tell you more. 
  • When they mention something you have in common, point it out.
  • Be enthusiastic and encouraging.

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Becoming less lonely

Ventilen, or “friend to one” in Danish, is an organization that helps 15-to-25-year-olds get together twice a week with two or three volunteers. Together, the people in the group play games, make ...

The prevalence of loneliness

Loneliness is becoming an "epidemic" and is associated with illnesses like heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and longevity.

  • One study revealed that 22% of Americans, 23% of Brits, and 9% of Japanese adults said they felt lonely all the time.
  • 40% of people aged 16 - 24 said they were often lonely, according to the BBC.

Coming together

Back in 1999, a support group called Bright Point was formed to fill the need of friends. But when people came together, no one talked. It was only after games were introduced as a catalyst that friendships started forming. Later, making meals and exercising was added successfully.

The program is not without challenges. Many lonely people may feel intimidated and won't attend. But designating a space for gathering and activities is a good step toward tackling loneliness. 

Loneliness Is A Kind Of Pain

  • Loneliness affects 19 to 43 per cent of adults who are now past 60 years of age.
  • Just as physical pain is a warning from the body telling us to take appropriate ac...

Loneliness And Mental Health

Studies show that older adults who are lonely see a decline in their thinking abilities, which is rapid if paired with other factors like physical inactivity, anxiety, poor sleep and high blood pressure.

Prolonged social isolation is a kind of mental stress leading to various mental and physical health issues like faster ageing, dementia and cognitive decline. It has also been linked to the factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease, like a build-up of certain toxic proteins in the brain.

Social Activities As A Form Of Self-Care

  • The negative impact of prolonged loneliness can be curbed with maintaining high-quality relationships and social activity.
  • How we manage our feelings and relationships is important for our brain’s health.
  • Self-care is an essential component of our mental and physical health, and we have to focus our attention towards better sleep and exercise routines, healthy eating and engaging in enjoyable activities.